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White Sox’ division lead at 2 after loss to Tigers

Prince Fielder beats throw score game’s final run seventh-inning double by DelmYoung. | Paul Sancya~AP

Prince Fielder beats the throw to score the game’s final run on a seventh-inning double by Delmon Young. | Paul Sancya~AP

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The facts: 6:05, Ch. 9,
670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The starters: Francisco Liriano (5-10, 5.06 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (14-6, 4.13).

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Updated: October 2, 2012 6:13AM

DETROIT — The White Sox’ lineup wasted a bevy of scoring opportunities, and pitcher Jake Peavy was only ordinary. On the eve of September, this was no way to open an important three-game series against the ­Detroit Tigers.

When it was over, the ­Tigers had cut the Sox’ lead in the American League Central to two games with a 7-4 victory. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will pitch Saturday and Sunday, so it doesn’t figure to get easier.

Going into the game with a major-league-leading .291 batting average with runners in scoring position, the Sox went 0-for-13.

Here are the opportunities that came and went:

◆ Runners at first and second with one out in the first inning: no runs.

◆ Bases loaded with no outs after one run scored in the third: no more damage.

◆ First and second after a pair of two-out walks in the fifth: no runs.

◆ Runner at third with one out in the seventh: nothing.

“We had chances. It just didn’t happen,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It was one of those nights where it doesn’t fall in for you.’’

The most glaring wasted chance came after starter Doug Fister hit Dewayne Wise with the bases loaded in the fourth, tying the score at 3. Fister was struggling, and Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko were due up. Youkilis lined out to third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Dunn struck out and Konerko hit into a fielder’s choice.

“Bases loaded, I hit that ball right at Miguel,’’ Youkilis said. “If it gets by him, it’s a whole new ballgame. There’s no ‘what-ifs.’ We didn’t win that game, but we got to come out and play well and try to beat these guys here.”

Tigers pitchers got away with issuing seven walks, a hobbled Cabrera (ankle)made two errors, and second baseman Omar Infante had a shaky defensive game. That was an open door for the Sox, but all they could muster besides A.J. Pierzynski’s 24th home run and double were infield singles by Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez and a line single by Dunn.

“We’d get it tied and we had chances and couldn’t find a way to get the lead,’’ Pierzynski said. “But give their guys credit — they made pitches when they had to, and that’s what good teams do.’’

Peavy (9-10) gave up Cabrera’s 33rd homer in the first and a solo shot to Jhonny Peralta in the fourth among nine hits allowed in six-plus innings. He left after walking Andy Dirks and giving up a single to Cabrera with the score tied at 4.

Enter left-hander Matt Thornton, who, pitching for the first time in seven days, hit Prince Fielder to load the bases for Delmon Young, who lined a three-run double to left-center to give the Tigers a three-run lead.

Peavy had pitched a perfect sixth to earn another inning, Ventura said. Peavy said he felt strong but couldn’t locate pitches.

‘‘I didn’t have much,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘It was a battle from the start. I didn’t have good location. I didn’t have great stuff.’’

The loss was the Sox’ fourth in their last five games. They came away from this one a little more banged up. Youkilis lost part of a fingernail on a hard-hit ground ball, Beckham has a bruise on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch, and Dunn was wincing noticeably from an issue in his rib-cage area, Ventura said.

“We’ve still got a two-game lead. They’ve still got to catch us,” Youkilis said. “The key right now is that we don’t want to start pressing. If it is the last weekend of the season, you might start pressing but not now.’’

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