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Jose Abreu hits 18th HR in White Sox’ win over Tigers

Updated: June 10, 2014 12:19AM

Manager Robin Ventura was talking before the White Sox’ 6-5 victory Monday over the Tigers about how the defense has to get better, and wouldn’t you know it, the corners of the outfield almost cost them a welcome victory a few hours later.

Protecting a two-run lead, closer Ronald Belisario got his sixth save even though Moises Sierra, a late-inning defensive replacement for Dayan Viciedo in right field, lost a liner off Austin Jackson’s bat — in the lights, Sierra said — for a leadoff double. Then Alejandro De Aza couldn’t handle a tricky but catchable ball near the top of the left-field wall that scored Jackson and put the tying run at second. But with one out, pinch runner Rajai Davis on third and the infield in, Belisario struck out Ian Kinsler looking at a letter-high pitch, then got pinch hitter Torii Hunter on a grounder to third baseman Conor Gillaspie to end the game.

With that, the Sox (32-33) exhaled after escaping in the first of four games against the American League Central leaders (33-27), a win made possible by Jose Abreu’s 18th home run and Adam Eaton’s leadoff triple in the first inning and his RBI single to complete the Sox’ scoring in the sixth. Gordon Beckham had three hits, including two doubles, and Gillaspie (.353) had two RBI singles.

The Tigers punched back with homers by Miguel Cabrera (437 feet), Eugenio Suarez and Victor Martinez against Sox starter Hector Noesi (2-4).

“I’ll be cliché, but South Siders, we’re grinders,’’ Eaton said. “We’re going to try to do the little things right and grind things out. I think that was as close to a boxing match as you can get. We scored a run; they scored one. We scored two; they scored one. Those three runs we had late in the game were big. Grinding it out. I wouldn’t have a baseball game any other way. That’s how it’s supposed to be played.’’

That the Sox got off the canvas after getting swept by the Angels in Anaheim over the weekend was noteworthy.

Lose this one with that chaotic start to the Tigers’ ninth, and the groundwork for a bad losing streak begins to take shape.

“You catch a couple of balls, and that inning looks a lot different,’’ Ventura said.

Abreu’s two-run, 407-foot shot came after an 0-for-13 mini-slump. Abreu, who has hit three homers since coming off the disabled list last Monday, also doubled.

“You can have a bad few games,’’ Ventura said. “He’s allowed to do that.

“He’s continuing to make adjustments with what other teams are trying to do to him, and when he hits it on the barrel, it goes a long way.’’

With Eaton and Beckham starting things at the top and Abreu mashing in the middle, the Sox’ lineup resembled more of the unit that had made baseball fun to watch at U.S. Cellular Field in April and early May. The Sox’ first four hitters combined for nine hits.

“You have to take advantage of opportunities and drive guys in,’’ Ventura said. “Over the last week, we left a lot of opportunities out there that early on we cashed in. Even with two outs, ones that hurt the psyche of a pitcher when something falls in, you get a hit and score them.”


Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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