Verlander helps Tigers tame ChiSox

DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander solved the Chicago White Sox for the first time, giving the Detroit Tigers a little more of a cushion in the AL Central.

In the opener of a possibly pivotal four-game series, Verlander
gave up one run over seven innings Monday night in a 7-1 victory
over the World Series champions.

"This start alleviates my mind," Verlander said.

Detroit had lost nine of its previous 12 games and saw its
division lead -- which bulged to 10 games on Aug. 7 -- dwindle to 5

Backed by Craig Monroe's two-run homer and Sean Casey's three
RBI, the Tigers beat Chicago for just the fourth time in 13 games
this year and boosted their margin over the second-place White Sox
back to 6 games.

"It's nice to get the first game of the series, but this
doesn't set a tone against a team like that," Detroit manager Jim
Leyland said. "It's two pretty good teams. The difference is, they
have a trophy and we don't."

The White Sox have not taken full advantage of Detroit's recent
slump because they have lost five of seven. Chicago leads the
wild-card race by a half-game over Minnesota and four ahead of

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen downplayed the significance of
the series before and after the game.

"When you're managing the team, you've got to go low key," he

Verlander (15-6) got his first victory since Aug. 1, giving up
five hits. Mark Fidrych, who won 19 games in 1976, is the only
Detroit rookie with more victories than Verlander in the last 50

He had been 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA this season against the White

"Against everybody else, I was doing well," Verlander said.
"The numbers were drastically different against them. That was a
team I had to focus on. I worked on not tipping my pitches, but the
biggest adjustment was the pitches I made."

Fellow rookie Joel Zumaya replaced Verlander in the eighth and
Todd Jones finished the seven-hitter.

Jose Contreras (11-6) gave up seven runs for the second straight
game, allowing eight hits, a walk and hit two batters in five-plus

"He was wild," Guillen said. "When you don't pitch good
against this ballclub, that's what happens."

Contreras is 2-6 starting with a July 14 loss against the New
York Yankees that ended his regular-season winning streak at 17

Jermaine Dye's career-high 34th homer put Chicago ahead in the
second, but the Tigers went in front for good in the home half on
RBI singles from Ivan Rodriguez and Casey. Monroe's homer made it
4-1 in the fifth.

Detroit chased Contreras by leading off with two singles and
Casey's two-run double, then Brandon Inge followed with an RBI
single to make it 7-1.

"We beat one of the best pitchers in baseball," Leyland said.
"If he was at his best, we might not beat him."

The Tigers became the first team in baseball with 80 wins, the
most they've had since 1993 -- the last time they had a winning
record. Detroit lost an average of 100 games the previous five
seasons, including an AL-record 119 in 2003.

"It's nice to be a part of this because I was around four-plus
years of the other stuff," Jones said.

Game notes
2B Neifi Perez made his debut with the Tigers, who acquired
him from the Cubs on Sunday for a minor league catcher. Leyland
expects Perez to be a regular ahead of Omar Infante while Placido
Polanco (shoulder) is on the DL. "I loved him in 1999 (with the
Colorado Rockies) and I still love him," Leyland said. "He's got
energy." ... During Contreras' slide, he had his first career
shutout Aug. 11 against the Tigers. He was 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA in
his four previous starts against them. ... The Tigers optioned INF
Ramon Santiago to Triple-A Toledo, placed RHP Roman Colon (neck
spasms) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Colby Lewis from Triple-A
Toledo. ... Monroe's homer was his 37th at Comerica Park, tying
Carlos Pena's record at the ballpark, which opened in 2000. ... The
game drew 39,278, Detroit's 17th sellout in 27 games. ...
Verlander's 15 wins are the most by a Tiger since Willie Blair had
16 in 1997.