DETROIT (AP) – Max Scherzer and Jose Valverde both have ERAs above 6.00. Scherzer, at least, seems to be heading in the right direction.
Scherzer pitched seven sharp innings Saturday but Valverde couldn’t hold the lead in the ninth, allowing a two-run homer to Adam Dunn in Detroit’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox. It was an unpleasant turnabout for the Tigers, who beat Chicago the previous night on a ninth-inning homer of their own.
“I missed a little bit and he got it,” Valverde said. “There’s nothing I can do.”
Detroit defeated Chicago 5-4 on Friday when Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run shot with one out in the ninth. There was also one out when Dunn hit his 422-foot drive off Valverde (2-1).
Nate Jones (1-0) got the win for the White Sox and Addison Reed came on to strike out Austin Jackson with runners on second and third for the final out. It was Reed’s first career save.
Detroit’s Delmon Young went hitless in his first game back from a seven-day suspension following his April 27 arrest in New York.
It was Valverde’s second blown save of the season. He was perfect in 49 chances in 2011.
“Last year is over,” said Valverde, whose ERA is now 6.17. “The closer, everybody knows, it’s not easy. One pitch can be the game, like it was today. Adam Dunn got it.”
Scherzer lowered his ERA from 7.77 to 6.32. He yielded a run and four hits, striking out nine without a walk.
“He is so good, man, especially when he’s pounding the strike zone like he did,” Dunn said. “He definitely shut us down, for sure.”
Showing none of the control trouble that plagued him in a seven-walk performance last weekend against the Yankees, Scherzer retired the first 11 White Sox before Dunn lined a single to right.
“I’ve always believed in myself. My confidence never waned,” Scherzer said. “One thing I was happy about is that I didn’t walk anybody today. That, I take pride in.”
Dunn’s homer was his eighth of the season. Paul Konerko also went deep for Chicago.
The Tigers scratched out their two runs in the second on RBI singles by Andy Dirks and Jackson.
The White Sox trailed 2-0 before Konerko’s solo shot in the seventh. Alejandro De Aza started the ninth with a single and a stolen base. He was sacrificed to third and Dunn – always a strikeout risk – not only made contact but put Chicago ahead.
Jones had pitched the bottom of the eighth, and Hector Santiago came on to try to close it out, but a walk and a double put Chicago’s slim lead in jeopardy. Reed, who hasn’t allowed a run this season, got the best of Jackson to preserve the win.
Gavin Floyd allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings for the White Sox.
Floyd was unlucky in the second, allowing an RBI single to Dirks on a slow grounder that slipped between third baseman Brent Morel and shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Jackson’s run-scoring hit actually deflected off Morel and past Ramirez, who looked as though he might have been in position to keep the ball at least in the infield and prevent the runner on second from scoring.
In the fifth, A.J. Pierzynski’s line drive up the middle hit Scherzer’s right foot during the pitcher’s follow through. The right-hander picked up the ball and threw wildly to first, and the play went for an infield single and an error, with Pierzynski ending up on second.
Scherzer stayed in the game and got out of the inning on a flyout and two strikeouts. He allowed a single to De Aza in the sixth – then promptly picked him off first. Konerko broke up the shutout an inning later with a homer to left.
Young was reinstated from the restricted list Friday after his suspension, but he didn’t play that night. He received mostly cheers and a few scattered boos from the home crowd for his first plate appearance.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)