Max Scherzer has been racking up the strikeouts in all of his starts this season. Now, the reigning American League Cy Young award winner is starting to collect victories.
Scherzer struck out 10 for his second win in six days as the Detroit Tigers downed the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Scherzer (2-1), who had two no-decisions and a loss in his first three outings, gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. He became only the second Tigers pitcher since at least 1914 to record seven strikeouts in his first five starts. Mickey Lolich did it in 1970.
"It takes more to have a good game than just striking somebody out. You've got to pitch well," said Scherzer, who now leads the American League with 44 strikeouts. "Where my stuff is at, I'm generating swings and misses and that's always a good thing."
The White Sox stranded six runners against him, including two runners apiece in the fourth and fifth innings.
"When I'm able to show you different looks every time you come to the plate, that's when I'm pitching my best," Scherzer said. "I felt like I was able to do that today. Even though they sprinkled in some hits in there, I felt like I was able to keep them from doing any big damage or having a big inning."
While Scherzer got the big strikeouts, first baseman Miguel Cabrera got the big hits. He drove in three runs with two singles as the Tigers finished their nine-game homestand with a 5-4 record and split the four-game series with Chicago.
It was the second time in three games Cabrera drove in three runs. Detroit has scored 19 runs the last three games.
"A major part of that is just Miguel hitting. He's been swinging it really well the last few games," said Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis, who had three hits, including a solo homer, and drove in two runs. "He's the meat, he's the key to our whole offense."
Detroit closer Joe Nathan gained his fourth save. The game ended when Nathan struck out White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Abreu was called for interfering catcher Bryan Holaday during Marcus Semien's steal attempt. The play was recorded as an unassisted double play for Holaday
Designated hitter Adam Dunn had a solo homer, his fifth, and a double while right fielder Dayan Viciedo rapped three hits and scored twice for the White Sox. Starting pitcher Jose Quintana (1-2) took the loss, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
"We had opportunities and they took advantage of theirs against (Quintana)," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He pitched a good ballgame and deserved better but what can you say? Max got us when he needed to."
Cabrera's two-out, two-run single in the seventh against reliever Daniel Webb gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead. Detroit loaded the bases against another reliever, Maikel Cleto, before Ventura brought in Webb to face Cabrera.
"That's probably the least appealing situation you can have with these guys," Ventura said. "You take your chances there but he's just pretty good. There's nothing you can do about it."
Chicago pulled within 5-4 in the eighth with two runs off reliever Joba Chamberlain. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez had an RBI single and another run scored on Holaday's throwing error.
Holaday and Davis had run-scoring hits in the bottom of the inning to restore a three-run advantage.
Dunn opened the scoring with a leadoff homer to right-center in the second. Third baseman Nick Castellanos' RBI single tied it at 1 in the bottom of the inning.
Detroit moved ahead in the third on Cabrera's two-out single to right. Davis extended the lead to 3-1 with his second homer of the season in the fifth.
The White Sox got that run back in the sixth when Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter lost a Viciedo fly ball in the sun. Viciedo wound up with a triple and Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: White Sox 3B Conor Gillaspie was a late scratch from the lineup because of a swollen left hand. Gillaspie, who has missed three straight games, felt discomfort while swinging in the batting cages Thursday morning. ... Chicago CF Adam Eaton missed his fifth consecutive game with a strained left hamstring. Manager Robin Ventura said Eaton could return to the lineup against Tampa Bay on Friday. ... Detroit plays its next eight games on the road and doesn't return to Comerica Park until May 5. Chicago opens a six-game homestand on Friday. ... Tigers starters have now recorded 12 quality starts in 19 games.