DETROIT -- The White Sox have provided few runs to support Jose Quintana the last four seasons. But lately, a lack of home runs for Jose Abreu has been the team’s bigger issue.
One led to the other on Thursday afternoon as Abreu snapped a 32-game homerless streak and the White Sox provided Quintana with a season-high for runs in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front in front of 33,023 at Comerica Park. Abreu’s two-run shot during an early five-run rally was his first in 137 plate appearances.
Avisail Garcia also homered in support of Quintana, who pitched 7 1/3 strong innings to lead the White Sox to their first road win of the season in 12 games against the Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals.
“I think that’s actually better than Q getting some runs, they’re both right up there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It has been a long time and somewhere in there it has been dragging on (Abreu). His swings today were great, he’s been hitting a lot of balls right on the nose, which is a good sign for him.”
Abreu’s homer bookended a second-inning rally against Jordan Zimmerman that provided Quintana with a commanding lead. Already ahead 4-1 and on the heels of a 10-pitch walk in his first plate appearance, Abreu ripped a 90-mph fastball to left for a two-run homer and a five-run lead.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
When he returned to the dugout, Melky Cabrera, who earlier singled in a run, forced Abreu into giving him an impromptu piggyback ride in the dugout. The homer was the first for Abreu since June 23 at Boston.
“We were just happy and we were celebrating that moment,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It was a long time.
“It was always in my mind. It was a tough time for me because I never experienced something like that in my career. I (have had) bad stretches when I didn’t hit homers, but not like this. …
“I feel relieved.”
Unfamiliar with such a lead, Quintana pitched well. It allowed him the chance to relax “a little,” but not too much against a powerful Tigers lineup. He attacked the strike zone and was extremely efficient after a rough first inning, which ended with a fantastic relay from Cabrera to Tyler Saladino to Omar Narvaez to throw out Nick Castellanos at home. Quintana, who threw strikes on 69 of 93 pitches, retired 15 of 17 starting in the second inning.
He ran into some difficulty in the seventh inning when he allowed three straight singles for Detroit to get within 6-2. But Quintana retired the next three batters, including Kinsler, to prevent further damage.
He allowed three earned runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out three as he improved to 9-8.
“Sometimes when you get a lot of runs, you can relax a little,” Quintana said. “(Abreu’s homer) was really good for us and really good for him. It’s exciting. Everybody had a lot of energy today, especially when it was hot. It was good. Everybody did a great job today.”
The White Sox offense didn’t waste any time against Zimmerman, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings. They scored a run in the first inning on Justin Morneau’s bases-loaded sac fly to capitalize on Zimmerman’s wild streak. He hit Tim Anderson to start the game and later walked Abreu. Anderson scored on Morneau’s sac fly to left and exited the game with a bruised left hand. X-rays were negative and the White Sox rookie shortstop is listed as day to day.
An inning later, Garcia put the White Sox back in front 2-1 with a 430-foot solo home run to center. Zimmerman never recovered as he allowed a Narvaez single and walked Saladino. Cabrera’s one-out single pushed across a run to make it 3-1 and Adam Eaton followed with a sacrifice fly.
“They jumped on (Zimmerman) pretty good and that inning just kept going,” Ventura said. “You didn’t really know where it was going, but a lot of good at-bats in that lead up to the homer that topped it off. A lot of good at-bats along the way.”