CHICAGO – Max Scherzer pitched six effective innings to earn his career-high 16th win, Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer and the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 8-6 on Wednesday night to move within a game of the AL Central lead.
Scherzer (16-6) allowed a run and four hits, including the first of two homers by Kevin Youkilis. The right-hander struck out seven to increase his major league-leading total to 220 and improved to 10-1 over his last 14 starts.
It wasDetroit’s second strong start in as many nights following Doug Fister’s winning performance on Tuesday night. After dropping the opener of the key four-game set on Monday, the Tigers have won two in a row in their last head-to-head meeting with the AL Central leaders.
Thursday night’s series finale featured a pair of aces, with reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander taking on White Sox left-hander Chris Sale. Verlander pitched eight sharp innings in a 4-2 victory overSaleand the White Sox on Sept. 2.
Fielder hit his 26th homer in the seventh against reliever Leyson Septimo, snapping an 0-for-18 slump and givingDetroita 6-1 lead. The drive to right followed two-out singles by Andy Dirks and Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers added two more runs in the eighth on RBI doubles by Alex Avila and Austin Jackson.
Youkilis belted a three-run shot off Joaquin Benoit in the eighth to get the White Sox within three runs. Youkilis has 18 homers, 14 of them since he was acquired in a trade withBostonin late June. He entered the game in a 3-for-34 slump.
Jose Valverde allowed two hits and a run the ninth on Alexei Ramirez’s grounder before getting Orlando Hudson on a called third strike for his 30th save in 34 chances.
Chicagostarter Gavin Floyd (9-10), activated from the disabled list (elbow strain) earlier in the day, pitched well for the first four innings but gave up three runs in the fifth.
Brennan Boesch, who had been 0 for 18 in his career against Floyd, opened the fifth with a single and Jhonny Peralta walked.Avilasacrificed, Omar Infante drove in a run with a grounder andJacksondelivered an RBI single to put the Tigers up 2-1 and finish Floyd.
Hector Santiago came in and walked Dirks before giving up an RBI single to Cabrera.
Floyd threw 70 pitches in his first start since Aug. 26. He gave up four hits and was charged with three runs to go with a walk and seven strikeouts.