DETROIT -- Mike Pelfrey's first win as a Tiger came at the expense of White Sox ace Chris Sale, whose latest frustrating loss in Detroit was in part due to J.D. Martinez's go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning in a 7-4 Tigers victory Saturday at Comerica Park.
Both Sale and Pelfrey settled down from early runs to trade zeros in a surprise pitching duel. Pelfrey, 0-4 for his career against the White Sox, didn't allow a runner into scoring position after Adam Eaton tripled and scored in the second to give Chicago a 2-1 lead. Pelfrey (1-5) tossed six innings of two-run ball, putting himself in line for his first win since last Aug. 12.
"It feels like a long time," Pelfrey said.
Sale held the lead until old nemesis Victor Martinez singled with one out in the sixth. J.D. Martinez, who drove in Detroit's opening run with a first-inning sacrifice fly, sent Sale's next pitch out to left for his 12th home run. Cameron Maybin added a run with an RBI single in the seventh, and Mike Aviles' safety-squeeze sacrifice bunt was part of a three-run eighth to provide a cushion they needed once Eaton's two-run double off Mark Lowe in the ninth drew the White Sox closer.
It was the second loss in three starts for Sale (9-2), who had won his first nine outings of the year. He fell to 7-6 in his career against the Tigers.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Put it in the book: Before Saturday's game, J.D. Martinez talked about scaling back his well-known notetaking of at-bats against some opponents, having built up a memory bank against some pitchers. His 28th plate appearance against Sale was more than he has against any other Major League pitcher, and he was ready to jump a first-pitch fastball. Statcast™ estimated the drive at 423 feet, tied for Martinez's longest this season.
Eaton does it early and late: Eaton drilled a 1-0 pitch from Pelfrey to right field for a triple to get the Sox started in the third. Tyler Saladino bounced out to shortstop, bringing Eaton in to give the Sox a lead. Eaton later doubled and drove in two runs in the ninth to finish a homer shy of the cycle.
Pelfrey's great escape: Pelfrey gave up three consecutive singles to start his outing, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead with a chance for more with the middle of their order up. But Pelfrey recovered for back-to-back groundouts from Jose Abreu and J.B. Shuck to keep the damage at that.
"I thought my stuff was good, and in that first inning, probably the hardest-hit ball was the ground ball up the middle to start it," Pelfrey said. "I was thinking, 'Where's this luck that I need? I need some luck here.' I thought it was good to get out of that inning, especially with the way that it started."
Coats exits debut after collision in outfield: Jason Coats made his Major League debut in left field for the White Sox on Saturday. It ended in the seventh inning, when he collided with center fielder Shuck while tracking down a fly ball off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. Despite the hard collision, Coats was able to hang on for the second out of the inning.
Coats suffered a laceration inside his mouth when his face hit Shuck's shoulder. He was evaluated after the game and given five stitches below his teeth. He said he feels fine and should be ready to go Sunday. It was quite the interesting way to make a Major League debut, he said.
"It's not what I wanted, but I'm still happy I got to go out there today," Coats said. "It stinks I had to come out of the game, but I feel fine."
"How can you not be frustrated? We're not winning, we're not playing well, and we're losing a lot. It doesn't matter how you lose it, it doesn't matter how you win it. You've just got to win. It doesn't matter who does it. You can play great and lose, and it doesn't matter. You can play like crap and win, and you're happy." -- Sale, on the White Sox losing nine of their last 11 games.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Victor Martinez singled twice to improve to 18-for-36 for his career against Sale. No active player with at least 20 plate appearances against Sale has a higher average, and only Kansas City's Alcides Escobar has more hits (21).
Pelfrey was hoping he had escaped a self-inflicted threat with a pickoff of Todd Frazier, who had escaped an 0-2 count to draw a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Replay, however, showed Frazier got his hand back to first base ahead of Cabrera's tag, keeping the inning alive. Pelfrey recovered to get an inning-ending fly ball from Abreu.
White Sox: The White Sox will send Jose Quintana to the mound in Sunday's 12:10 p.m. CT series finale at Comerica Park. Quintana, the AL ERA leader, has lost each of his last four starts after winning four straight prior to that.
Tigers:Justin Verlander enters his start in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale having allowed a 1.91 ERA and .155 batting average over his last five outings. He's 4-1 against the White Sox since the start of the 2014 season.
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