Tigers' second straight late rally pushes streak to four

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Chicago – Baseball.

You can be scuffling and fighting yourself for a couple of weeks and then go out and hit a pair of home runs and knock in five like Nick Castellanos did Saturday.

Or, you can come off the disabled list, throw four perfect innings and then go out in the fifth inning and give up four straight hits on five pitches like Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann did.

It’s a fickle beast, this game.

The Tigers blew a three-run lead and won on Friday night. They blew a five-run lead Saturday and, with another late flurry — this time against former Tiger Bruce Rondon — they won again, beating the White Sox 7-5 for their fourth straight win.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 7, White Sox 5

"It always feels good when you can do something to make your teammates happy," Castellanos said.

It's the fourth straight win for the Tigers, and all four have come on rallies from the seventh inning or later.

"It's all part of the plan, man," Castellanos said with a grin. "It's kind of stupid if you are on the outside looking in. But when you are on the inside, and you know what you want to accomplish, and you've got a bunch of guys buying in to the same thing like we are, it's really remarkable what you can accomplish."

This is the first road series the Tigers have won since they swept the White Sox in April. It's five straight wins at Guaranteed Rate Field, and nine of 10 against the White Sox. 

"Nicky was big for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need him. He went through a little funk and you saw what he did today. He carried us in the early part of the game."

When Castellanos came to the plate with two out and two on in the third inning, he had produced three hits in his last 34 plate appearances with 12 strikeouts. But he got a 92-mph fastball from White Sox starter Lucas Giolito and sent it 375 feet into the seats in right-center field, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

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The next time up, with a man on and again two outs in the fifth, Giolito threw him an 83-mph slider. Castellanos pulled it 405 feet into the seats in left — 5-0.

"It's always fun," Castellanos said. "Touch 'em all, high-five your friends. It's just kind of getting back into the rhythm of things and staying connected on my swing."

But the five-run lead would disappear quickly. Zimmermann, making his first start since May 5 after spending a month on the disabled list with shoulder impingement, dispatched the first 12 White Sox hitters he faced and he was at an economical 53 pitches.

But he gave up hits to the first four batters in the fifth, on five pitches, and the lead was down to 5-4. The White Sox tied it off reliever Drew VerHagen in the sixth on a triple by Yolmer Sanchez and a long sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu.  

The White Sox contributed to their own demise in the eighth. 

Rondon entered with a man on and nobody out. He walked John Hicks. JaCoby Jones popped up a bunt about halfway between the plate and mound. Rondon charged, dived, got his glove on it, but couldn’t hold on.

It was ruled a single and the bases were loaded.

Rondon struck out Grayson Greiner for the second out, but Jose Iglesias hit a soft bouncing ball up the middle. The White Sox infielders were positioned in, not in double-play depth, and the ball scooted by Yoan Moncada — RBI single, 6-5.

Rondon walked pinch-hitter Niko Goodrum to force in the seventh run.

The Tigers' late-inning relievers have been stout in this stretch, as well. Joe Jimenez, who has not allowed a run in his last seven outings, pitched a clean eighth.

Closer Shane Greene, working his fourth straight game, pitched a clean ninth for his 19th save. He struck out Adam Engel and Daniel Palka to end the game.

He is the first Tigers closer since Todd Jones in 2000 to record saves in four straight days. 

"I take a lot of pride in getting myself ready to compete on a daily basis," Greene said."I long toss every day and I throw flat-ground every single day, so the days I don't pitch are like off-days."

Sunday will be an off-day for Greene. Gardenhire said he would not use his closer five straight days. 

"I hope it's a situation where we don't have to use our set-up man or our closer," Gardenhire said. "We haven't had too many of those."

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