Josh Stewart was erratic in his control and pitch count, and the offense failed to score on two bases loaded opportunities, leaving 14 men on base for the game.
Stewart started the game safe enough with two base runners and four strikeouts in the first two innings.
A 24-pitch, three-run third – coming off a home run by Shane Halter – however put the Sox down 3-1. Stewart eventually pitched out of the inning after a double, walk, and botched double play, which happened when both Valentin and Jimenez covered second on the throw by Stewart, resulting in an error (given to Valentin).
The Sox scored their first run with a Tony Graffanino solo home run in the third, but that came after missing a golden opportunity in the first.
The Sox put their first two men on in to start the inning with a single by D’Angelo Jimenez and bunt single by Jose Valentin. That was it as a Frank Thomas grounded into a fielder’s choice to second, and Magglio Ordonez and Paul Konerko flied out.
The Sox had a second chance in the fourth inning, this time loading the bases with three straight singles by Ordonez, Konerko and Carlos Lee. A soft liner by Graffanino to first for a double play and an Aaron Rowand groundout ended the inning.
After the Sox left another two men in the fifth, Stewart took the mound for the Tigers’ half and departed with one out after giving up a Bobby Higginson lead off double.
The Tigers then went up 4-1 with a RBI-sacrifice fly by Dean Palmer off reliever Gary Glover. Glover finished the inning and a pitched a scoreless sixth before giving way to Kelly Wunsch (2/3, no runs) and Tom Gordon (1 1/3, no runs) to finish the game. Glover and Wunsch have yet to give up a run in 6 2/3 innings.
Stewart’s line for the game was four earned runs, six strikeouts, five hits, three walks and 90 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.
The Sox loaded the bases for the second time in the seventh with a Jimenez single, Thomas walk and Ordonez hit by pitch, but Konerko struck out for the final out.
A small rally for two runs in the eighth off Detroit’ relievers – starter Nate Cornejo was pulled after the sixth, picking up the win – brought the Sox within one run.
Both runs came off a Joe Crede pinch-hit (for Valentin) single, scoring Graffanino and Sandy Alomar. In the inning, the Sox walked twice, had three pinch-hitters – two coming within the same at bat – and a Rowand single, his only hit of the game.
Tigers’ Matt Anderson pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to pick up his first save. The Sox had two men on with two outs in the ninth before Rowand struck out, putting the Sox record at 6-5.
The game, which consisted of seven runs, was over three hours long and played in front of a small, but energetic, crowd of just under 13,000.
The rubber game of the three-game set will be on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Bartolo Colon is schedule to pitch against Gary Knotts. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.