Laird homers, leads Tigers over White Sox 5-2
CHICAGO (AP) Not only did Rick Porcello help the Tigers avoid a sweep with a solid outing, he became the first Detroit starter to earn a win this season.
Gerald Laird homered among his three hits to back Porcello and lead the Detroit to a 5-2 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, snapping Chicago's four-game winning streak.
Porcello (1-0) was sharp against an aggressive Chicago lineup. He allowed five hits, struck out four and didn't issue a walk in 7 2-3 innings.
''I was keeping the ball down well and got a lot of groundballs and choppers,'' Porcello said. ''Gerald (Laird) called a good game back there. We were able to keep them off balance and it was a good win for us.''
Detroit's rotation entered 0-3 despite a respectable 3.83 ERA.
''All the other starters have pitched well,'' Porcello said. ''It's just the way it's happened so far.''
Laird homered to left against Chris Sale (1-1) leading off the third. Detroit added runs in the fifth and sixth, both runs scoring on wild pitches, and two in the ninth.
''It was fun,'' Laird said. ''I have a good time with all the guys. . They know I joke around a lot, so when I hit it good, they were giving me a little bit of grief.''
Laird also doubled in the fifth, then singled and scored in the ninth.
The White Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of ninth, but Jose Valverde struck out Dayan Viciedo to end the game.
Porcello got the White Sox to repeatedly swing early in the count during the first six innings. Through four innings, he'd thrown just 31 pitches, two fewer than Sale threw in the second inning alone.
''He's primarily a sinkerball guy, but he changed a little today where he had some higher, harder fastballs,'' Chicago's Paul Konerko said. ''When you can do that as a sinkerball guy, it usually opens up a lot of things for you.''
Sale breezed through the first but struggled to command his off-speed pitches after that, racking up 102 pitches in five-plus innings. He struck out five and walked two, managing to keep the damage to a minimum.
''At the end of the day, I would like to forget this one,'' Sale said. ''It's not a good day unless we come back with a W. Like I said before, I just needed a better effort.''
Prince Fielder doubled, scored and drove in a run for Detroit. Delmon Young added two hits and is batting .350 over 243 lifetime at-bats against the White Sox.
Viciedo hit his second homer, a solo shot in the eighth for Chicago. Adam Dunn doubled twice and Paul Konerko doubled against Porcello and improved to 8 for 20 lifetime against the righty.
Porcello got 12 of his 23 outs on groundballs.
''When he's getting a lot of groundballs, his sinker is being real effective,'' Laird said.''
Detroit salvaged the last game of the three-game weekend series, winning for the 22nd time in 30 games against the White Sox. After scoring 40 runs while winning five of their first six games, the Tigers scored just three runs in dropping the first two games of this series.
The Tigers won the division by 15 games last season over Cleveland and were 16 games better than third-place Chicago, in part leading to forecasts of a possible Detroit cakewalk this season.
''People that made those picks, they know nothing about baseball,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''Picking the Chicago White Sox, picking this and that, they're crazy. Since 2006 when I got here, this has been one of the best teams in the league every year. They'll be right there.''
NOTES: Konerko has a hit in all eight of Chicago's games this season. ... Former Tigers outfielder Clete Thomas was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. Thomas made Detroit's opening-day roster and played in three games before being designated for assignment last week. ... Brandon Inge got his first start of the season as Detroit's designated hitter. He is expected to get regular duty at second base this season, not one of the five positions he's played during his 12-year big league career.