Justin Verlander could sense Miguel Cabrera was on the verge of breaking out of his slump — even before the Detroit slugger's home run.
"You like to see results, but he really did take some great swings yesterday and that was just a precursor to today," Verlander said Tuesday night. "Hopefully that gets him jump-started."
Cabrera hit a two-run homer, Verlander pitched seven solid innings and the Tigers held on for an 8-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. Cabrera was 4 for 23 on this homestand before going 3 for 5 in Detroit's win.
Cabrera hit a homer and a double off Chicago's Charlie Leesman (0-1), who was called up from the minors to start in place of an injured Chris Sale.
"No offense to Charlie, but I'm sure those guys were pretty excited when they heard Chris was scratched," Chicago's Adam Dunn said. "That would be true no matter which pitcher we were sending out there instead of him."
Verlander (3-1) had little to worry about after allowing a first-inning homer to Jose Abreu. He allowed two runs and eight hits, striking out seven and walking two.
Chicago's Dayan Viciedo had a career-high four hits, and Dunn hit a two-run homer in the ninth to pull the White Sox within two. Joba Chamberlain got the final out for his first save, retiring Alexei Ramirez on a liner to left with one on.
Ian Kinsler doubled twice for the Tigers, who sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run third inning.
Cabrera improved his average to .235 on the season and at least momentarily calmed concerns about his early struggles. After Kinsler's double in the first, Cabrera lined a double of his own to the wall in right-center field, tying the game at 1.
Kinsler added a two-run double in the third, and Cabrera followed with a drive to right that Viciedo seemed to have measured at first. With the wind blowing out much of the night, the ball carried just over the wall to put the Tigers up 5-1.
It was Cabrera's second home run of the year, and it came on the first pitch.
"In that situation, you've got to come aggressive and try to get a good pitch to hit," Cabrera said.
Nick Castellanos added a sacrifice fly later in the inning, and Detroit scored two more runs in the fifth when Alex Avila hit an RBI double and scored on a double by Rajai Davis to make it 8-1.
Avila went 3 for 4 to raise his average to .227.
It was 8-3 entering the ninth, and Detroit's Phil Coke struck out the first two hitters of the inning, but Marcus Semien doubled, Paul Konerko hit an RBI single and Dunn homered to right.
Chamberlain came on and walked Viciedo before J.D. Martinez caught Ramirez's liner in left.
Abreu opened the scoring in the first with a drive that cleared the wall in center for his sixth homer of the season. Verlander did not have a perfect inning all night, but he kept the White Sox from stringing too many hits together, and his Detroit teammates gave him more than enough run support.
Sale was supposed to face Verlander in a marquee matchup of AL Central aces, but the left-hander went on the disabled list before the game with a strained flexor muscle in his throwing arm. Leesman's second career start did not go well. The Tigers hit the ball hard off him right from the start, and he allowed five straight hits — including two doubles and a homer — before getting an out in the third.
Leesman allowed six runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings.