CHICAGO (AP) – Carlos Guillen singled home the go-ahead run in the 10th inning and the Detroit Tigers extended their longest winning streak in 77 years, rallying past the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday for their 12th straight victory.
Guillen also hit a solo homer for Detroit, which hadn’t won 12 in a row since 1934 – when Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer and the Tigers lost a seven-game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals’ famous Gas House Gang.
Jose Valverde finished up in the ninth to remain perfect in 44 save opportunities this year.
Closing in on an AL Central title, the surging Tigers rallied for three runs in the ninth off Chicago’s bullpen to prevent rookie Dylan Axelrod from earning his first career win.
Ryan Raburn’s pinch-hit homer with one out off Chris Sale brought the Tigers within two. Magglio Ordonez walked, chasing Sale. Alex Avila pinch-hit for Andy Dirks and hit Sergio Santos’ second pitch into the seats in right-center to tie it.
The Tigers have won 22 of their last 26 games overall and 21 of 27 against the White Sox.
Axelrod struck out eight and threw six strong innings in his first career start just two years after pitching for the independent Windy City ThunderBolts.
Santos (4-5) blew his sixth save of the season.
Miguel Cabrera singled, doubled and scored a run for Detroit.
Alexei Ramirez laced a two-run double and Paul Konerko added a two-run single during Chicago’s four-run second. Konerko reached 100 RBIs for the sixth time in his career.
Tigers starter Brad Penny allowed five runs – one earned – and eight hits over six innings. Phil Coke (3-9) threw a scoreless ninth for the win.
Ramirez doubled, singled, walked and scored a run. Alejandro De Aza doubled, reached base four times, scored two runs and stole a base.
The 26-year-old Axelrod struck out at least one batter in each of his six innings and walked just two. He was starting in place of Jake Peavy, who was shut down by Chicago for the remainder of the season.
Axelrod allowed Guillen’s leadoff homer in the second and another run in the sixth but was sharp throughout his outing.
The 6-foot righty was a 30th-round pick by San Diego in 2007, but bounced around the minors, falling out of affiliated ball in 2009, when he threw for Windy City of the Frontier League. He was signed by the White Sox prior to the 2010 season.
Chicago’s four unearned runs in the second were set up by Penny’s error on Brent Morel’s sacrifice bunt, loading the bases.
Gordon Beckham struck out looking and Alex Rios was forced out at home, leaving the White Sox 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position to that point. Chicago entered the game just 5 for its last 45 in those situations, but Ramirez snapped the skid with a bloop double down the right-field line, scoring two runs.
Konerko followed with his two-run single.
Chicago tacked on a run in the sixth when Beckham doubled home De Aza.
NOTES: The Tigers can clinch the AL Central during their four-game series at Oakland this weekend. In Thursday’s opener, Detroit will send Max Scherzer to the mound to face Brandon McCarthy. Scherzer has allowed just two runs in 14 innings this month. … The White Sox travel to Kansas City for a four-games series. On Thursday, Chicago’s Mark Buehrle will square off against fellow lefty Jeff Francis. Buehrle has allowed 14 runs in nine innings over his last two starts.
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