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White Sox short on time after fizzling against Tigers

Detroit Tigers starter JustVerlander pitches against Chicago White Sox first inning baseball game Friday Sept. 2 2011 Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane

Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander pitches against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:26AM

DETROIT — It’s bad enough ­having to face Justin Verlander. Spotting the American League Cy Young Award favorite three runs in the first inning in this town is like jumping into the ring against Joe Louis with no punch.

The Detroit Tigers’ easy 8-1 victory before a sellout crowd at Comerica Park did not knock the White Sox out of contention in the American League Central, but the result left them with a formidable task of winning the last two games of the series. A split will send them out of town trailing the first-place Tigers by at least 6 ½ games.

“We’re running out of games,’’ ­losing pitcher John Danks (6-10) said. “We have to win. We have to win a lot more than we lose and … definitely have to win out against Detroit and hope for some help along the way. We put ourselves in a pretty bad position.’’

The Tigers put the Sox in a bad position in the first, and it was the way they scored the three against Danks that was disheartening, considering everything at stake. Austin Jackson singled sharply to left on the type of grounder that — albeit a tough play — shortstop Alexei Ramirez has fielded all season. And Delmon Young tripled off the glove of center fielder Alejandro De Aza’s outstretched glove. Give credit to De Aza for getting good jump going back — an event not seen very often in center this season — but it was a catchable ball.

Granted, they were tough plays — the kind division-winning teams seem to make.

Making the inning even worse, slow-footed Miguel Cabrera singled to center, stole his second base of the year with a good jump on Danks and scored on Alex Avila’s bloop ­single to short left.

“To be totally honest with you, there was one ball hit hard, and I got what I was trying to get — some ground balls and jam shot to Avila,’’ Danks said. “I was throwing strikes. They were hitting them the way I wanted to hit them, with the exception of Delmon’s ball. They just hit them in a good place.”

It was 3-0 Tigers, and Verlander had more than he needed before Sox fans in Chicago hadn’t finished dinner. For good measure, Jackson hit a two-run homer in the fifth, an inning Danks could not finish.

“You are down 3-0 in the first against him, you know you are going to find a pretty tough situation,’’ Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Meanwhile, the Tigers backed Verlander with stellar defense. Magglio Ordonez made a running catch in right and middle infielders Jhonny Peralta and Ramon Santiago also made highlight plays.

“Amazing plays out there,’’ said Verlander (21-5, 2.34), the first Tiger to win 21 games in a season since Jack Morris finished 21-8 in 1986.. “Ordonez looked like the Ordonez of 10 years ago tracking down the ball.’’

“You work hard to square a ball up and they catch it or make a good play and it takes the wind out of you a little bit and it makes him probably feel a little bit better too, Sox left fielder Juan Pierre said. “They had everything going tonight. They had their big guy on the mound and you just have to shake this one off, have amnesia about it and get the one [Saturday].’’

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