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White Sox’ 4-2 loss to Tigers spoils 4-game streak

Sox starter EdwJacksmeeting with A.J. Pierzynski labored through six innings Saturday but Sox ultimately fell Tigers.  |  Tasos

Sox starter Edwin Jackson, meeting with A.J. Pierzynski, labored through six innings Saturday, but the Sox ultimately fell to the Tigers. | Tasos Katopodis~Getty Images

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:21AM

With a four-game winning streak on the line, the White Sox knew they’d be in for a battle against
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who had his own streak going.
He had beaten the Sox six times in a row.

Make it seven.

‘‘He’s pretty good no matter what our lineup is,’’ Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ‘‘He has electric stuff. He believes in himself. In the past, we’ve had trouble with him.’’

The present wasn’t much better. Verlander survived repeated Sox threats through eight innings to gain a 4-2 victory Saturday and even up this important American League Central series at a game apiece.

‘‘He’s really good,’’ Gordon Beckham said of Verlander (6-3). ‘‘I think he was throwing 99 mph in the eighth inning. It’s hard to hit a guy throwing that hard and with the breaking stuff he has.’’

Beckham did connect against Verlander in the fifth inning for a two-run home run.

But the decisive homer came from Miguel Cabrera in the ninth. He rocketed a 1-2 pitch from Jesse Crain (2-2) into the right-field

‘‘It’s part of the game,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘Cabrera is one of the best hitters in the game. He hit a homer to the opposite field to win a game. You tip your cap.’’

Verlander might have been at his best in the eighth, when the Sox seemed poised to take the lead. Brent Morel singled and took second on Juan Pierre’s sacrifice. But when Alexei Ramirez singled through short, Morel could only get to third. When a fly ball could have scored him, Verlander froze Carlos Quentin with a 100 mph third-strike call.

And when A.J. Pierzynski slapped a hard grounder back to him,
Verlander got to his feet and threw him out.

‘‘That’s happened every time we don’t get the big hit,’’ Guillen said of Cabrera’s homer. ‘‘We had a chance in the eighth. The guy on the mound [Verlander] wasn’t an easy one, but we had a chance.’’

Verlander allowed only one hit until the fifth inning, when Brent Lillibridge weaved his latest bit of magic, slapping a ball off Verlander’s thigh. Verlander spun and found the ball on the mound, then threw past first.

Lillibridge ended up at third on the error and scored moments later on Beckham’s one-out homer.

Beckham’s fifth of the season took the bite out of the air filled with boos for struggling Adam Dunn’s latest strikeout. Verlander, who struck out seven, fanned Dunn three times.

Dunn was at the plate in the ninth with one out and Alex Rios at first after he drew a walk from Tigers closer Jose Valverde (15th save). He hit a ball toward the shortstop spot, where third baseman Danny Worth was playing in a shift. Dunn just beat a relay throw to first to avoid a game-ending double play. But Beckham struck out to end the game.

Until the eighth, the game was an odd pitcher’s duel between Verlander and Edwin Jackson, who was making his seventh career start against the team he played with in 2009 and represented that year as an All-Star. He labored through his six innings, throwing 124 pitches, giving up seven hits, walking four and striking out five. But the Tigers only scored in the first inning on Brennan Boesch’s homer with Austin Jackson on base.

‘‘I knew I was at 60 [pitches] in the second inning, and I knew it would be a battle,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘All you want to do is keep it close, and that’s where I wanted to go. My hat’s off to the defense behind me.’’

The rubber game today will be big for both teams as they try to gain ground on the Cleveland Indians.

‘‘We were in it until the end, and everyone is battling,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘We have to keep battling. We have to win the series [today].’’

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