DETROIT (AP) - If the Chicago White Sox fall short in the AL Central race this year, it may end up being because they've played so poorly at Comerica Park.
Max Scherzer allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings, and the Detroit Tigers pulled within a game of first place with a 5-1 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night.
Chicago has lost seven of eight at Detroit this season - the White Sox are 3-14 there since the start of 2011.
Detroit has taken the first two games of this series from the AL Central-leading White Sox and will send Justin Verlander to the mound Sunday to try for a sweep. Scherzer (15-6) won his fifth straight start, striking out nine with one walk.
``There's a long way to go. You're still where you want to be,' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ``No use hanging your head. Still a lot worse places you could be.'
Delmon Young homered and tripled for the Tigers.
Francisco Liriano (5-11) allowed three runs, four hits and seven walks in four-plus innings. Chicago was swept in a three-game set in Detroit in July, momentarily ceding first place to the Tigers. Now the White Sox are in danger of being caught atop the division.
``My last three starts just wild a lot,' Liriano said. ``I think the main thing with me to get better is location. Get ahead in the count.'
Scherzer increased his strikeout total to 204, becoming the first pitcher to reach 200 this year. He and Liriano are two of the three pitchers who have struck out at least 15 in a game this season. The other is Chris Sale, Chicago's starter Sunday.
Scherzer has struck out at least eight in nine straight starts.
``He threw as good a performance as we've had thrown against us, just stuff-wise,' Ventura said. ``Looked like he was in and out and spotting his pitches.'
Detroit opened the scoring with two runs in the third. Brennan Boesch, who has struggled this year but entered the game 5 for 11 lifetime against Liriano, hit an RBI triple and came home on Miguel Cabrera's single.
Young led off the Detroit fifth with a drive that hit the top of the wall in left-center and came back in play for a triple. He eventually scored on a two-out single by Avisail Garcia, the first big league hit for the right fielder.
Young's next hit - in the seventh - had enough distance to clear the fence for his 16th homer of the year. Cabrera added another RBI single in the eighth.
The Tigers have won 24 of their past 30 home games.
The White Sox were without slugger Adam Dunn, who was sitting out with a strained oblique.
Scherzer struck out Kevin Youkilis in the eighth for his final out, then took off his hat to acknowledge the crowd before getting a handshake from manager Jim Leyland.
``When our offense is scoring runs, they're making their starter work, we're getting hits - big hits - it makes it fun to go out there and pitch well,' Scherzer said. ``Any time the team wins, in this situation, with where we're at with the season, it just puts a smile on my face.'
Orlando Hudson hit an RBI triple off Detroit's Jose Valverde in the ninth.
NOTES: Chicago used eight pitchers. ... Scherzer lowered his ERA to 3.93. ... The White Sox entered September with a division lead for the fifth time since 1993. They ended up finishing first the other four times - in 1993, 2000, 2005 and 2008. ... Chicago RHP Deunte Heath made his major league debut in the eighth, getting Prince Fielder to hit into a double play. ... Ventura said LHP Hector Santiago will start Monday night against Minnesota.
The Associated Press News Service
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