DETROIT -- Despite Philip Humber giving the White Sox a less-than-quality start during Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Tigers, the visitors did not call it quits early before 41,281 at Comerica Park.
Even though Miguel Cabrera hit an estimated 883 feet of home runs against the White Sox, with his second giving him 300 for his illustrious career, Robin Ventura's crew did not simply sit back and watch this weekend sweep conclude. Regardless of the White Sox (50-45) suffering their first sweep of at least three games this season and dropping 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers (52-44) in the American League Central, they aren't about to concede anything in this division race with 67 games remaining.
"You would rather have these little not-play-so-well [skids] now than in late August and September," said White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn, who finished 1-for-3 with a walk on Sunday. "Hopefully, we'll get it out of our system, start playing good and get some momentum when it starts to matter."
"They got out to a lead and we couldn't get it back," Ventura said. "The lineup kept battling, and it was a situation where you could make a run at them. They just held us off."
Humber (4-5) got lit up early and somewhat often in his second start since returning from the disabled list for a right elbow flexor strain. After the White Sox scored in the first on three straight singles by Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios, the Tigers nailed the right-hander for three in the bottom of the frame.
Austin Jackson started the rally with a walk, the culmination of a 10-pitch at-bat, and promptly swiped second. Quintin Berry followed with a 371-foot, opposite-field shot to left, the first of four Detroit homers, and Cabrera drove one 426 feet for the third run of the inning.
The Tigers scored three more in the third, starting with Cabrera's titanic 457-foot shot to center. That prodigious clout made Cabrera the second Venezuelan-born player to reach 300 career homers, joining Andres Galarraga. Brennan Boesch added a two-run shot on a 2-2 pitch three hitters later.
The final line for Humber was a tough one to look at: just 57 pitches over three innings, four homers, one walk and no strikeouts. The stuff was there, according to Humber, but location was not. He was able to pretty well sum up his afternoon's work in one word.
"Short," Humber said. "Obviously, I picked the wrong day to get balls up in the strike zone. It doesn't matter how good your stuff is. If it's up in the zone against a good team, especially a good team that's hot, they are going to square them up and make you pay."
Hector Santiago's 3 1/3 hitless innings of relief, during which he struck out four and walked four, gave the White Sox a chance to rally. That comeback started in the fifth when Konerko singled off Cabrera's glove and Rios came through with a two-run homer off Detroit starter Jacob Turner (1-1).
Rios' drive to left was originally ruled a double, but was quickly and correctly changed to a home run after a brief video review by the umpires. Kevin Youkilis added a solo home run in the seventh off reliever Phil Coke to cut the margin to two, but that was as close as the White Sox would get. They lost for the fifth straight time and completed their 10-game road trip to open the second half with a 3-7 record.
It was a strange run for the White Sox, who had the lead in all 10 of these contests, and scored in six separate first innings to take early control. They also had eight innings during this 10-game stretch where they scored, only to have the opposition score in the bottom half of the frame.
Youkilis, Dunn and Konerko, the White Sox Nos. 2-4 hitters, combined to finish 5-for-35 (.143) with one RBI during the series. The team went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, failing in the fifth and sixth with two on, leaving them 19-for-89 (.213) in that category over the past 11 games.
"Obviously, offensively we're not doing anything," Dunn said. "It puts a lot of pressure on our pitchers because they know. They obviously see our offense is struggling. We got a couple of hits [today], so hopefully we can go home and get it right before we go back on the road."
This long journey began with the White Sox holding a three-game division advantage. It ends with the team sitting on the playoff bubble overall, let alone trying to catch the Tigers, who have won 13 of their last 15.
"They're playing really, really good and we're not," Dunn said. "We knew today we needed to go out and relax and win. That's obviously the goal. But if you lose, it's not life or death. If we're playing like this in late August or September, then you've got to be a little worried."
"I mean, it's only July 22. I just want to stay consistent," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Even when times were bad early in the season, it was not because of lack of effort or not being ready to play. We just weren't playing very good."
Maybe sleeping in their beds, even if it's just for four days, will help the White Sox turn things around. They don't want, "It's still July," to quickly become, "It's too late."
"Right now, if we're giving up runs, we're not scoring any," Ventura said. "If we're scoring, we give it up. Just one of those [things] that we'll figure out."