In a battle of staff aces, both Jake Peavy and Justin Verlander allowed one bad inning.
Peavy's was worse. And it might have been preventable had it not been for a two-out HBP to Quintin Berry.
Alejandro De Aza gave Peavy a 2-0 lead by turning on a 3-2 Verlander fastball and knocking it over the right field wall. It looked like a lead Peavy could sustain for a while, considering he started the game with five straight strikeouts.
The third started started a little rougher -- Jhonny Peralta doubled, then had to stay there when Alex Rios charged a sinking liner convincingly enough to hold Peralta on the bag, even after he could only snare it on a short hop. Peavy regained control when he got Austin Jackson to ground into a double play.
But on a 1-0 pitch, Peavy plunked Berry to put runners on the corners for the heart of the Detroit lineup, and Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young each tagged a get-me-over slider for RBI hits. The Tigers had a 3-2 lead, and they wouldn't let it go.
Verlander improved to 11-1 over his last 12 starts against the Sox by allowing just four hits and two walks over eight innings. It seemed like the Sox made him work harder than usual -- he struck out an ordinary six batters and needed 121 pitches -- but they had some holes in the batting order.
For instance, De Aza (single and a walk, along with the homer) was backed by Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, all of whom went hitless. The same can be said for Alex Rios (double and a walk), who couldn't be moved by A.J. Pierzynski or Dayan Viciedo.
The Tigers added one for good measure in the seventh with help from Peavy, who balked Peralta from first to second by flinching with his right arm while standing on the rubber. Austin Jackson cashed him in with a (wait for it) two-out single on (wait for it) a get-me-over changeup.
Brian Omogrosso and a debuting Donnie Veal pitched a scoreless eighth. Omogrosso gave up a double to Cabrera and a single to Fielder, but Youkilis got Cabrera at home on a chopper to third for the first out, and Veal struck out the only two he faced in a very impressive introduction.
Still, the Sox now lead the AL Central by just a half-game.