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Homers give Tigers the edge on South Side

July 22, 2016

CHICAGO -- Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera broke the Tigers out of their offensive funk with fifth-inning solo homers off James Shields, powering Mike Pelfrey to his third win in 19 starts with a rain-shortened 2-1 victory over the White Sox on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.The game went into

CHICAGO -- Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera broke the Tigers out of their offensive funk with fifth-inning solo homers off James Shields, powering Mike Pelfrey to his third win in 19 starts with a rain-shortened 2-1 victory over the White Sox on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.
The game went into a delay in the middle of the seventh inning, and was called after two hours and five minutes of persistent storms.
Pelfrey (3-9) dueled Shields for five-plus innings, each overcoming ground-ball singles to thwart early threats. Adam Eaton doubled off the center-field fence and scored on Tim Anderson's chopper over Cabrera's head and into right field in the third inning for the game's only run until Kinsler and Cabrera struck.

"If you're hitting balls on the nose and you're making outs, that's just part of the game," Kinsler said. "It's a tough game, it's a weird game and sometimes you go through stretches like that. But we continue to have good at-bats and give ourselves opportunities to score runs; it just wasn't happening. For Miggy to hit that home run and give us the lead, it was big."
With that, the Tigers had as many homers in one inning as they had in their entire previous series against the Twins at Comerica Park. And Shields (4-12), despite his fifth consecutive quality start, was on the hook for his third straight loss.

The White Sox, meanwhile, lost for the seventh time in their last eight games. They've scored a total of 10 runs in the seven defeats.
"We found another way to lose a ballgame today in a little bit different scenario," Eaton said. "I don't really agree with it. I want to stay here until we finish the game. It's three innings. What's three innings? But not my call. Just a tough go at it, but we have to continue to push forward. We've got three more games vs. these guys, three winnable games that we need."
Kinsler, Cabrera capitalize: The line drives and fly balls started carrying on Shields in the fourth inning, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles flied out to the warning track. Once Kinsler worked the count full and got a fastball over the plate, he got enough on it to send it out to near-straightaway center field. With that, he clinched his first 20-homer season since 2011. Cabrera followed two batters later with his first home run since June 29, an estimated 422-foot launch to left-center field for a 2-1 lead. His 19th long ball of the season gave him 1,499 career RBIs.
"We only scored two runs, but the truth is, this is the second game in a row we hit the ball hard," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We didn't have a lot to show for it in terms of runs, but up and down the lineup, guys hit the ball hard." More >

Escape artist: Shields faced Nick Castellanos in tight spots twice within the first three innings and got out of both jams with a key strikeout. The White Sox right-hander whiffed Castellanos swinging with runners on first and third to end the first inning, then fanned him swinging again -- with the bases loaded -- to end the third.
"I threw him some pretty good changeups," Shields said of Castellanos. "He worked the count on me pretty good. I got him on a 3-2 changeup the first time. Just tried to locate my pitches on him and mix it up. He's a dangerous hitter. You walk Victor Martinez to get the bases loaded and you get to [Castellanos], it's not a very comfortable feeling, but you've got to bear down and get the job done." More >

Rain dance: Storms were less than a half-hour away when Pelfrey gave up a single and walk with one out in the sixth. Instead of going to middle relief, Ausmus went straight to right-handed setup man Shane Greene, who struck out Todd Frazier, hit Tyler Saladino and retired J.B. Shuck to close the threat on the last pitch thrown by a Tiger before the delay.
"Greeney came into a tough situation and got us out of it," Ausmus said, "which ultimately became very important in a rain-shortened game."

Nice range, rook: Anderson showed he isn't just an impact player with a bat in his hand. He's also pretty nifty with a glove, as he showed with an athletic play for the third out of the second. Anderson got to a ground ball in shallow left field, ranging far to his right to make the stop before his off-balance throw across the diamond robbed Mike Aviles of a single.

"I know it's a tough decision for the umpires to make in a one-run game. You've got two teams in the same division playing each other. It's not easy to cancel a game on that situation. After talking to Jeff Nelson, the crew chief, he said that they still had another two hours of rain coming. Obviously we're not upset by it, but it's still not an easy decision for an umpire." -- Ausmus, on the game being called

Kinsler is the first Tigers second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a season in the Comerica Park era. The last Tigers second baseman to do it was Damion Easley, who hit 27 in 1998, the team's next-to-last season at Tiger Stadium. Easley actually homered 20 times in 1999, but one came as a designated hitter.

What looked off the bat like a Cabrera single in the third briefly became an inning-ending double play, thanks to a lunging catch from Brett Lawrie and throw to second to double off Kinsler. The Tigers, however, challenged the call, which was overturned. It was the 13th reversal in 20 challenges by Ausmus this season.

Tigers:Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.13 ERA) has put together a stellar rookie season, but he has yet to face the White Sox. He'll get his chance on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field when this series continues with an 8:10 p.m. ET start.
White Sox: Former Tigers prospect Jacob Turner (0-1, 18.00 ERA), selected ninth overall by Detroit in 2009, will get the start for the White Sox when the series continues on Friday night. Turner made his first start for Chicago on Sunday in Anaheim, taking the loss after allowing eight runs in four innings against the Angels. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT at U.S. Cellular Field.
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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Brian Hedger is a contributor to based in Chicago who covered the White Sox on Thursday.