CHICAGO -- A night that started with poor execution and a number of wasted opportunities for the White Sox ended with the team's season-best fourth straight win behind a few highlight-reel defensive plays and clutch home runs, as the White Sox beat the rival Tigers for the first time in the last 10 meetings, 6-4.
Playing without Paul Konerko, who underwent a procedure earlier on Friday to dislodge a loose bone fragment in his left wrist, the White Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners through the first three innings. They finally opened up some breathing room in the fourth on a two-out, three-run homer by Carlos Quentin, extending the lead to 4-0.
Aside from Quentin's homer, manager Ozzie Guillen's club spent much of the night getting runners on base only to leave them there. Despite drawing four walks and having a hit batter in the first three innings, the White Sox managed just one run and even that was a bit of a gift when, in the first inning, Tigers starter Andrew Oliver surprisingly threw to first base on a one-out, bases-loaded chopper back to the mound.
Even with the missed early opportunities, the White Sox weathered 13 hits from Detroit by playing solid defense behind starter Mark Buehrle, who gave up three runs over six innings for the win. Third baseman Brent Morel saved a run in the first inning with one of his three diving stops, and Juan Pierre made a potentially game-saving catch on the warning track with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
"It was an ugly win," Guillen said. "Very ugly. We made it tougher at the end of the game because we didn't produce early. If we get the big hits early, then at the end of the game, it's going to be a little bit easier. But a win is a win, you take it however it comes."
As a team, the White Sox were just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners, many of whom reached base with less than two outs. After managing just the one run with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first, they then failed to score with runners on second and third with nobody out in the third and -- after a Brent Lillibridge homer to start the inning -- with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth.
The Tigers, who had at least one baserunner in every inning except the third, had their fair share of struggles with getting runners home as well, but that was in large part due to the White Sox defense. With Chicago clinging to a 5-3 lead in the eighth, reliever Matt Thornton worked his way into a one-out jam before Pierre made a running catch while crashing into the left-field wall, robbing Alex Avila of an extra-base hit that would have at least tied the game.
"We played good defense, especially behind Thornton," Pierre said. "I missed two behind him this year and it was good to come up with one and get him out of the jam. We battled all night. This was a good all-around victory."
"That catch from Pierre was huge," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "With the bases loaded, if he misses that ball, we're down and trying to fight back. That play was absolutely huge, along with the three diving plays Morel had, of course."
After Sergio Santos came on to strike out Ramon Santiago and end the threat, Pierre -- who was also 1-for-2 and reached base four times -- hit his first home run of the season. It gave Santos an insurance run before he pitched a scoreless ninth for his 10th save.
"It don't happen too often," Pierre said of his first home run since Aug. 3, 2010, also against Detroit. "I told the guys in here, you all just have to let me smile the rest of the night. It might be until next year that I hit another home run."
Following the home run, Santos walked Austin Jackson to lead off the ninth inning, but retired the next three batters and ended the game by striking out Miguel Cabrera with Jackson on second.Cabrera was involved in a couple other potential run-scoring situations, as he was also at the plate when Brennan Boesch was caught stealing in the fourth before Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta each singled. Cabrera, who doesn't have a steal on the season, was then caught trying to advance on a wild pitch one inning later with two outs and Victor Martinez at the plate.
"We kept the game right there," Cabrera said. "They won today, it was a good win. They battled, we battled."
On the same night as Pierre's first home run of the season, Adam Dunn, who wasn't in the lineup until Konerko was scratched, snapped an 0-for-40 skid against lefties in the fifth inning. It came off of an infield single to first base.
"I've been feeling good all year, but it's just one of those things. The baseball Gods weren't going to let me go with no hits, right?" said Dunn before sarcastically adding, "It was awesome, it'll be one of my career highlights."
The White Sox have won six of their last seven at home and sit just seven games back of division-leading Cleveland. It is the closest the White Sox have been since April 28.
"We just battled through the first part of the season, and now it's starting to turn around," Morel said. "Guys have been stepping up and pitchers are doing well. We've been scoring some runs and they have been helping us out. Just keep rolling."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.