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6th inning costly in loss, but Ozzie Guillen likes White Sox’ attitude

DETROIT - JULY 17: Mark Teahen #23 Chicago White Sox reacts after striking out ninth inning against Jose Valverde #46

DETROIT - JULY 17: Mark Teahen #23 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers during the game at Comerica Park on July 17, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 4-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\119300986.jpg

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Updated: October 27, 2011 12:30AM

DETROIT — One inning Sunday prevented a sweep of the Tigers. The White Sox refused to let it spoil their weekend.

“If we continue to push the way we pushed the last three days, it’s going to be fun,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Tigers came from behind for a 4-3 win against Philip Humber. “I don’t know what the results will be, but it will be fun. Those guys battled and had enthusiasm, made the plays when they needed to make the plays and just came up short.’’

The Sox say they’re done with the “poor us” grumblings that marked the first half. They arrived at Comerica Park with a fresh, upbeat attitude after the All-Star break, and wins against Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander and 10-game winner Max Scherzer on Friday and Saturday gave it room to grow.

“I thought there was a lot more life in the dugout,’’ Humber said. “Guys swung the bats well all three games. Two well-pitched games before today. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come. Keep that rolling and be consistent with that.’’

Humber’s outing wouldn’t be classified as poorly pitched, even though he failed to hold a 3-0 lead. Brennan Boesch’s home run in the fourth came on a low pitch, “a 2-iron,” as catcher A.J. Pierzynski called it. Humber (8-6) struck out a season-high eight over 52/3 innings but gave up three runs in the sixth to surrender the lead.

It started with Andy Dirks’ bending one-hopper off shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s glove that rolled into short center field for a double. Ramirez said the ball curved away from him. With one out and runners at first and second, the Tigers avoided a double play by having the runners going when Miguel Cabrera grounded out to Ramirez.

After Humber assured Guillen face-to-face that he was strong enough to continue on a 90-degree day, Victor Martinez singled in Dirks from third and Magglio Ordonez scored from second unchallenged when right fielder Carlos Quentin couldn’t pick the ball up cleanly.

“He gave me the right answer. Wrong result,’’ Guillen said.

“I made a good pitch, and he put a good swing on it,’’ Humber said.

After a bloop single by Jhonny Peralta, Chris Sale replaced Humber and allowed a single to right by Carlos Guillen. The ball skipped under Quentin’s glove, allowing Martinez to score from second without a play.

On the plus side for the Sox: Adam Dunn and Alex Rios doubled during a three-run second, and Gordon Beckham had two hits to extend his hitting streak to eight. But the Sox couldn’t score despite getting the leadoff man on in the third, fourth and fifth innings. In the ninth, Pierzynski led off with a walk, but closer Jose Valverde struck out Mark Teahen and got Juan Pierre on a foul pop with pinch runner Brent Lillibridge on second.

“If we play like this the rest of the season, we’ll be fine,’’ Guillen said. “I’m not talking about winning two of three, but playing the way we did.

“It was good to see the team play like that. They battled all the way to the ninth. It was nice to be in the dugout watching what they were doing.’’

The American League Central is shaping up as a four-team race that likely will be decided during the last week of the season. The Sox, who trail the Tigers and Indians by four games and lead the Twins by one, look to be in it for the long haul.

“That’s why I told them in the [Friday team] meeting that this game is not about preparing yourself on the field,’’ Guillen said. “You have to do it off the field, too. Take care of yourself and your body, mentally and physically, to go through it. The closer it gets to the end, the harder it’s going to be. We know for a fact this is going to be a dogfight, all the way through it.

“There are a lot of teams involved in this pennant race, and, in my opinion, whoever pitches better and stays healthier is the one that’s going to take it.’’

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