Detroit Tigers show life against Chicago White Sox

Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning in Detroit on Thursday. (AP photo)

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers held a players’ meeting recently to talk about the importance of competing down the stretch.

“From the beginning of the season, people have been counting us out. We’ve played pretty well this year, given the circumstances,” outfielder Mikie Mahtook said. “At the beginning of the season, if you said Miguel Cabrera would be out … season-ending injury, I don’t think people would think that we’d have this season. I think people all expected us to lose a hundred games.”

Mahtook hit one of three Detroit home runs in the sixth inning, and the Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Thursday. Even after the victory, Detroit is 22 games under .500, but after finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last season, the Tigers have avoided a total collapse in 2018.

Matthew Boyd pitched six scoreless innings for Detroit, and Nicholas Castellanos, Mahtook and Ronny Rodriguez hit solo shots off James Shields (5-15) in the sixth.

“You could see after we hit the first one, he got a little hot. He was a little mad,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He tried to throw it through a brick wall, and we got him a couple more times. That doesn’t happen very often.”

It was the first career home run for Rodriguez, who also hit an RBI double two innings earlier.

Boyd (8-11) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out six.

Jose Rondon hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the White Sox, who fell to 3-10 this season against Detroit.

Chicago manager Rick Renteria missed his fourth straight game since experiencing lightheadedness Monday in Minnesota. The White Sox said he was back in Chicago and would have further testing.

Shields allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He is now 1-8 with 6.12 ERA on the road this year.

In the sixth, Detroit hit three home runs in a span of four batters, with Mahtook and Rodriguez connecting for back-to-back drives that gave the Tigers a 5-0 advantage.

Jim Adduci added a two-run double in the seventh.

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BIG PLAY

Detroit center fielder Mike Gerber struck out three times and is now hitless in his last 30 at-bats, but he made the game’s biggest defensive play in the fifth. Down 2-0, the White Sox had men on first and second with two outs when Ryan LaMarre singled to center.

It looked like Yolmer Sanchez would score easily from second, but Tim Anderson tried to go from first to third and was thrown out by Gerber — before Sanchez made it to the plate, meaning that run didn’t count.