Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd delivers a pitch in the first inning during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Alex Rios hit his career-high 25th homer and the Chicago White Sox gave their playoff hopes a major boost, beating Tampa Bay 3-1 on Friday night to end the Rays' eight-game winning streak.
The White Sox got a bit of a reprieve after dropping eight of nine and moved within one game of first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers lost to Minnesota 4-2.
The Rays began the night two games behind Oakland for the second AL wild-card spot. But they came up short in this one, ending a streak that launched them back into playoff contention.
Both teams have five games remaining, including two against each other.
The White Sox won thanks to a big effort at the plate by Rios and a strong showing by the bullpen after Gavin Floyd (11-11) struggled with his control.
Rios' drive leading off the fourth against Jeremy Hellickson (9-11) broke a 1-all tie. Rios added to the lead when he started the sixth with a double off the left-field wall and came around on Alexei Ramirez's two-out single.
The crowd cheered that, but the biggest roar came later, when the Tigers-Twins game ended.
Floyd gave up two hits over five innings, including a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the first, but struggled in a big way with his control. He walked five, and of the 105 pitches he threw, only 57 were strikes.
Even so, he got his first win at home since July 23.
Jesse Crain threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings, matching his longest outing since April 28, 2010, against Detroit. He left after hitting Evan Longoria with a two-out pitch in the eighth.
Matt Thornton walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez before Nate Jones retired Jeff Keppinger on a groundout to end the threat.
Donnie Veal struck out pinch-hitter Ben Francisco leading off the ninth before Addison Reed retired the final two batters for his 29th save in 33 chances.
Hellickson allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings for Tampa Bay.
The White Sox were in first place for 117 days this season. Now, they're simply trying to stay in contention and time is running out.
Floyd was far from dominant in his fourth start back after spending time on the disabled list because of a right elbow flexor strain. Things certainly weren't looking good for him when Zobrist drove the first pitch he saw out to right for his 19th homer with two outs in the first, but the Rays came away empty in the second and third even though they had two runners on in each inning.
The White Sox tied it in the third when Gordon Beckham led off with a single, advanced to second on Hellickson's errant pickoff throw and came around on Kevin Youkilis' single. Then, in the fourth, Rios broke the tie with a leadoff drive that gave him a personal-best 89 RBIs to go with his career high in homers.