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Long day, lopsided defeat leaves Tigers upset

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Chicago — Here was the Tigers’ 8-2 loss to the White Sox Friday night in a nutshell:

In the bottom of the third inning, the White Sox had two out and nobody on base — and scored three runs off Tigers’ starter Matthew Boyd.

In the top of the fourth, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position and nobody out — and couldn’t dent the plate off White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey.

Aggravating, for sure, for the Tigers, who have lost five of six and are two games under .500. But the whole day was aggravating for the Tigers.

BOX SCORE: White Sox 8, Tigers 2

“This was pretty much what you’d expect, we were flat,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “You can credit the White Sox. You can credit the schedule we have. We will try to get about five hours sleep tonight and play two more.”

Again, for the second time this week, the Tigers took a red-eye flight and got to their hotel in the wee hours on the day of a game, this time at 4 a.m. in Chicago on a day they were scheduled to play two games.

But after they got their early wake-up call and got to the stadium, they were informed the first game had been postponed. They would still play the regularly-scheduled night game. The doubleheader will happen on Saturday, costing them more sleep.

“I’m not real happy with it,” Ausmus said. “We get in at 4 a.m., we’re supposed to have a doubleheader and the first game gets canceled because of weather and we don’t start until 8:30 p.m. and now we have to get up early again.

“Am I happy about it? No. It’s awful, actually. It’s a terrible schedule.”

The start of the game was delayed 85 minutes, and the Tigers had been at the ballpark since noon.

“You can’t control the weather,” Ausmus said. “But I think it would have been prudent to schedule the (make-up) game Saturday in the first place. That would have made more sense.”

The White Sox and MLB control that scheduling decision.

“We don’t expect the White Sox to do us any favors,” he said.

Boyd, who has had a rough month, got through the first two innings without much stress, and he dispatched the first two in the third on weakly-hit tappers in front of the plate. But Melky Cabrera reached on an infield hit and Jose Abreu followed with a two-strike, opposite-field ground ball that snuck through the infield.

He then walked Todd Frazier to load the bases for former Tiger Avisail Garcia, who is enjoying a breakout season. He ripped a three-run double into the corner in left.

That was all the damage against Boyd,who had another disappointing start. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, leaving a two-on, two-out mess in the fifth inning for reliever Shane Greene to clean up.

Boyd hasn’t won since April 16. He lost his last five. In his four previous starts this month he had a 7.17 ERA and 1.922 WHIP. The opponents' average against him in May: .347 with a .973 OPS.

Pelfrey, whom the Tigers released in March and still pay his $8 million salary, struck out a season-high seven in five innings. That’s one shy of his career best and two more than he ever fanned in a game with the Tigers.

But he was on the ropes in the fourth and the Tigers let him wriggle off.

J.D. Martinez reached second on a two-base throwing error by Tyler Saladino. Justin Upton singled him to third and then stole second.

Nick Castellanos, who had singled in his first at-bat after his two-day sit-down, decided to swing at a 3-0 fastball that was inside and probably ball four. He hit it on two hops to third baseman Matt Davidson.

With the play right in front of him, Martinez still broke for home and was thrown out.

“He wasn’t going on contact,” Ausmus said. “That was a mistake by J.D.. Actually it was (third-base coach) Dave Clark’s mistake because he told him to go. But J.D. should have stayed. As a baserunner, you want to listen to your coach, but when the infield is back except for the third baseman, and the ball is hit right at the third baseman, you have to know you aren’t going to score.

“But it actually didn’t matter because Tyler Collins walked to load the bases with one out.”

After Collins walked, Upton was forced out at the plate on a ground ball by John Hicks and Andrew Romine lined out to Pelfrey to end the threat.

One of the Tigers' two runs off Pelfrey was unearned (an error on shortstop Tim Anderson in the second) and one was a no-doubter home run by Alex Avila — a 407-foot shot to center that cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth.

Ausmus removed Greene after he got the final out in the bottom of the fifth, but he was in a tough spot. He not only had to get through the game, he also had to save some arms for the doubleheader Saturday.

“I wanted Greene to get that one hitter and keep it close,” he said. “For two games now we’ve had to worry about playing two games the next day, so I am trying to use the 'pen wisely. I want to be able to use guys tomorrow.

“I felt if we could keep it close there, we’d have a shot. But we couldn’t hold it.”

Ausmus said he didn’t want to use Alex Wilson in the sixth because he pitched Thursday. He also wanted to save Francisco Rodriguez for later in the game.

“I can’t give Greene another inning there or bring in Alex for an inning because then I’ve lost both for tomorrow,” Ausmus said. “And in a game where we aren’t winning at the time.”

So left-hander Blaine Hardy got the call against a White Sox lineup that featured nine right-handed batters. It did not go well for Hardy.

He gave up a home run to Davidson, then a double to Kevan Smith and RBI single to Cabrera.

Game over.

The Tigers scratched two hits (both with two outs in the ninth) off five White Sox relievers over the final four innings.

Left-hander Chad Bell, who worked out of a jam in the seventh, was tagged for a three-run home by Cabrera in the eighth. Cabrera had three hits and four RBIs.

With three games in less than 24 hours, Ausmus is rotating rest days for his regulars. Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler were held out Friday.

Twitter.com: @cmccosky