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Adam Dunn’s home run in ninth lifts White Sox over Tigers

Adam Dunn came through ninth inning with his eighth home run two-run shot. | Duane Burleson~AP

Adam Dunn came through in the ninth inning with his eighth home run, a two-run shot. | Duane Burleson~AP

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Updated: June 7, 2012 8:30AM

DETROIT — Adam Dunn’s two-run, 422-foot home run against Tigers closer Jose Valverde was big in size and — for the White Sox — immeasurably large in scope.

Less than 24 hours after a crushing walk-off loss to the American League Central favorites, the Sox found a way to avoid losing for the ninth time in 11 games thanks to Dunn’s prodigious ninth-inning blast and Addison Reed’s strikeout of Austin Jackson that preserved a 3-2 victory Saturday at Comerica Park.

The Sox had been manhandled by Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer and his nearly unhittable slider through seven innings. But Alejandro De Aza, still upset with himself for getting picked off first earlier, singled to lead off the ninth and stole second. After Alexei Ramirez bunted him to third, Dunn stepped in.

“Anytime you have one of those, especially Adam, and the way he hit it, it’s nice,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “You’re coming off last night when you get punched in the gut and to come back and do it right back is a credit to the guys.’’

“I just got a pitch I could get in the air, and it happened to go out,” Dunn said.

“We needed to win this game, and Gavin [Floyd] pitched great and kept us in it.’’

It wasn’t finalized without more ninth-inning drama for Sox relief pitchers. Hector Santiago, still closing with Chris Sale a couple of days away from assuming the role, walked Friday’s home-run hero, Jhonny Peralta, with one out. With two outs, struggling No. 9 hitter Ryan Raburn doubled to left.

Ventura brought in Reed, who threw a 97 mph fastball and two 96 mph heaters past Jackson to end the game. It was Reed’s first career save and his 12th scoreless appearance in as many outings, tying Sergio Santos’ 2011 record for a Sox rookie.

“I honestly took it like any other inning I go out there,’’ Reed said. “Every time I go out there, no matter how I pitch, I try to get outs. It happened.’’

Reed received a game ball that he and fellow rookie right-hander Nate Jones might cut in half as a memento, Jones cracked. Jones pitched a scoreless eighth for his first career win.

“It felt awesome, being able to do my job, throw strikes — and I was lucky enough to put up a zero,’’ Jones said. “And then [Dunn] hit that blast to put us ahead. It felt good.”

Scherzer retired the first 11 Sox before Dunn singled. Paul Konerko’s sixth homer in the seventh cut the Tigers’ lead to 2-1 against Scherzer, who came into the game with a 1-3 record and 7.77 ERA and left with nine strikeouts, no walks, four hits allowed and nothing to show for it.

Floyd stayed with him, lowering his ERA to 3.03 by scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out six in seven innings.

“He really matched Scherzer today,’’ Ventura said.

Dunn raised his average to .250 and RBI total to 22. Asked by a Detroit writer to explain the difference between this season and last year’s flop, Dunn steered clear of a subject — 2011 — he’s done talking about.

“It’s kind of what I expect to do,’’ he said of the numbers he’s putting up.

“When he’s in position to hit, he’s going to produce some homers,’’ Konerko said. “Only bad pitch selection will do him in. He worked real hard in the offseason and in spring training to get in that position, and now he’s just rolling with it.’’

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