CHICAGO -- The Tigers solved part of the equation Monday night in attempting to break out of their season-long offensive funk. As for the next steps -- scoring runs and getting the big hit -- well, they're still a work in progress.
Because of that, Detroit (17-18) is back below .500.
The Tigers pounded out 12 hits, but left 13 men on base, and reliever Luke Putkonen allowed three sixth-inning runs in a 7-5 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It's kind of a Catch-22 because we did swing the bats better tonight, but we still had opportunities to get some more runs, which obviously we didn't do, which hurt us in the end," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo drove in a career-high four runs, including the go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth, to hand the Tigers their third loss in the last four games.
The Tigers were playing from behind in part because of their lack of execution and also because of Viciedo's ability to step up in the clutch.
After Chicago's Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski began the sixth inning with consecutive singles off Putkonen, the Tigers reliever walked Alexei Ramirez -- prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones. On the very next pitch, Viciedo singled up the middle to score Rios and Pierzynski. Brent Morel then plated Ramirez for the final run.
Putkonen (0-2) relieved starter Drew Smyly, whom Leyland took out after five innings and only 69 pitches. Leyland said he didn't like how the White Sox, who hit two, two-run home runs off Smyly, were getting the ball in the air against the lefty.
"They had never seen [Putkonen] and I was hoping maybe he could come in and hold them for a couple innings," Leyland said. "When he struck [Paul] Konerko out, I felt pretty good -- he was throwing a pretty easy 95 miles per hour -- but he hung a breaking ball to Morel that hurt him. We got the bouncing ball from Viciedo, he just didn't get it at somebody."
The Tigers put two on with one out in the seventh inning and Miguel Cabrera singled with one out in the eighth, but Tigers batters failed to come through both times.
Detroit got an early lead thanks in large part to a wild outing by White Sox left-hander John Danks, who worked only three-plus innings.
The Tigers jumped out front in the first when Fielder's two-run double scored Andy Dirks and Cabrera, who walked and singled, respectively. The double was Fielder's first hit in his last 22 at-bats, breaking a career-long drought for the first baseman, who finished 3-for-5.
After Delmon Young's double scored Fielder, Detroit added two more runs in the third. With one out and the bases loaded, Danks walked Peralta to plate Young before Ryan Raburn scored on Gerald Laird's sacrifice fly. Danks issued his fourth free pass to Austin Jackson to once again load the bases, but escaped the inning without any further damage.
"We had so many chances to tack on runs, we just didn't get it done," Laird said. "We got out, scored some runs early, we just couldn't add on later on in the game."
The Tigers could've gotten to Danks even more in the second inning with runners on first and second, but a hard grounder down the third-base line off the bat of Cabrera that appeared to be fair was waved foul by third-base umpire Gerry Davis.
"No complaints about that. That's part of the game," said Leyland, who argued the call. "It was a fair ball, but we had some other opportunities and we didn't get the guys home."
Danks was removed in the fourth inning after allowing consecutive singles without recording an out as four White Sox relievers combined to shut out Detroit the rest of the way.
"Obviously I didn't help our cause much, but the other guys picked me up," Danks said. "It's just a testament to this team, the mentality of the team. Very fortunate tonight because I dug us a pretty good hole."
Despite the loss and numerous missed opportunities, Leyland and Laird were both upbeat afterward because of the potential the offense showed. Now, Laird said, it's time for the offense to finally start hitting up to its potential.
"We haven't really put a whole stretch together where we hit real well in a game," Laird said. "So hopefully the bats are starting to wake up. Our pitching's been good lately, so we just have to put it all together and we're going to get going here."