CHICAGO -- The Detroit Tigers survived a treacherously shaky ninth inning from closer Jose Valverde on Tuesday night to beat the Yankees, a victory that was completed about 15 minutes before the Royals toppled the White Sox, 5-2, in front of 27,194 at U.S. Cellular Field.
White Sox losing pitcher Jake Peavy (9-8) really didn't seem overly concerned with the Tigers' results after the White Sox (60-49) lost for the 14th time in their last 23 contests against the Royals (46-63). It was more about his team's shortcomings on this perfect Chicago evening.
"I did not see the scoreboard tonight. I don't really care," said Peavy, who was noticeably down despite giving the White Sox a chance to win over 6 2/3 innings and 104 pitches. "You got to take care of business here.
"On your fifth day, that's all that consumes me. Losing a game like we lost tonight, when you feel like it could have went differently, it [stinks]. There's no other way to say it."
Peavy did not completely lose this particular contest, not after striking out four, walking three and yielding three runs on seven hits. It was the club's rare lack of execution that dropped its American League Central lead to a half-game over the surging Tigers.
Bruce Chen (8-9), not so affectionately known as "Cy Chen" among the White Sox faithful for his 3-1 record and 1.89 ERA posted over five starts against the team last season, held the South Siders to two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. But there were chances to take control.
That greatest opportunity came in the fifth when A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo opened the inning with singles. Jordan Danks was instructed to bunt with ninth hitter Rey Olmedo on-deck, but Danks popped the ball in the air to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who proceeded to double off Pierzynski from second.
"We've got guys in there who are not regulars," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of deciding to bunt with Danks. "So you're trying to move it along and get it to the top, but it just didn't work."
"[Chen] just did a good job," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham. "He's got a lot of pitches and he keeps people off balance. He just knows how to pitch. We couldn't get to him."
Beckham's leadoff homer, the first leadoff homer of his career, and Adam Dunn's run-scoring single in the sixth accounted for the only two runs. Chen won for the first time since June 26 and improved to 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA over his last five starts at U.S. Cellular Field.
"They have a very good team, they're in first place and I just try to do everything I can," said Chen of his success in Chicago. "I guess because they have such a good lineup, I concentrate and focus a little bit better because any mistake you make you can pay for it."
This White Sox setback was played without third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore right knee. Alejandro De Aza missed his second straight game with a stiff back.
The White Sox, though, don't usually put up a lot of runs behind Peavy even with a full complement of starters. The White Sox have scored more than three runs behind Peavy in just three of his starts since the beginning of June.
Kansas City didn't have a hit until Billy Butler's one-out double in the fourth, but it was a five-hit seventh that inflicted the most damage against Peavy. Jeff Francoeur opened the frame with a bunt single and moved to third on Hosmer's single to right.
Francoeur scored on Tony Abreu's single to left, although Hosmer was thrown out trying to go to third by Viciedo. Jarrod Dyson barely beat out a grounder that Beckham ranged in the hole to his left and made a diving stop on, and Alex Gordon singled home the go-ahead run.
On Big Ten night at the ballpark, it seemed only fitting that a University of Nebraska product in Gordon would come up big. Peavy wasn't really thinking about such a connection.
"Losing is losing. I got outpitched. I don't like to lose. I just hate to lose," Peavy said. "I wish I could have done more to help us win, I really do. It stinks when you feel like you have a chance to win and you don't. You get so close and you could have done things differently to win."
"Honestly, after the first inning, he threw a good game, working into the seventh inning," said Butler of Peavy, referring to the right-hander's two walks to start the game. "He gave his team a chance to win and we just had a couple two-out hits and capitalized on some situations when we had runners in scoring position."
Butler's titanic two-run clout to center in the eighth off reliever Nate Jones completed the scoring, with Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland (second save) nailing down the win. It brought the Tigers that much closer to the division lead, not yet really a worry for the White Sox but certainly a concern.
"They're a good team. I don't think it's surprising anyone that they're playing well," said Dunn of the Tigers. "We've got a lot of baseball left, and hopefully we get hot at the right time. We can't just sit here and worry about what they do. We gotta worry about what we do."