DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers came back from the dead on Sunday afternoon to send the 2015 White Sox further into the abyss.
After they tied it by scoring four times off Jeff Samardzija in the eighth inning, the Tigers walked off a winner as James McCann hit a solo home run off Zach Putnam to send the White Sox to a 5-4 loss in front 39,455 at Comerica Park.
The White Sox, who are off on Monday, dropped to 32-42 on the season after relinquishing a four-run lead with six outs to go. Victor Martinez keyed the game-tying rally against Samardzija with a one-out, three-run double.
“He still had something left in the tank,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Victor being a switch-hitter, you are taking your chances either way, whether you get up (Zach) Duke at that point or Put or Jake (Petricka). He still had enough in the tank to go get them and it didn’t work out.”
Samardzija was nearly flawless through seven innings with his pitch count at 86, but everything changed in the eighth.
Trailing 4-0, McCann singled to start the tying rally and Jose Iglesias drew a taxing, 10-pitch walk against Samardzija. Ventura stuck with Samardzija as Anthony Gose singled to center and Ian Kinsler forced in a run when Samardzija hit him. Samardzija managed to strike out Miguel Cabrera on three mid-90s fastballs but Martinez ripped a three-run double to right center on the first pitch he saw from the White Sox starter to tie the game.
“I felt good,” Samardzija said. “Absolutely. I feel fine. I can pitch, man. I felt good out there. It’s just about making the pitches.”
Putnam got two outs to strand Martinez but with one out an inning later, McCann sent a 0-2 pitch into the stands to win it.
“That’s a talented team, talented offense,” Putnam said. “You have to stay sharp the whole nine innings. If you give that team one inch of breathing room they’ll jump back into a game.
“Jeff was absolutely cruising, making it look easy. He had an inning where he got some base runners -- those can yield runs very easily. He did what he should have done and Jeff pitched his butt out there, kept us in the game for 8-plus innings. But it’s a game we should have won.”
Looking for a boost against left-handed pitchers and more production from the second spot, Ventura altered his lineup and moved Jose Abreu behind leadoff man Adam Eaton.
Abreu got things going against David Price with a leadoff double in the fourth inning and he advanced to third when Yoenis Cespedes fell down retrieving the ball. Avisail Garcia gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly and cleanup hitter Melky Cabrera immediately increased the lead to two with a 450-foot solo homer to left off Price. Cabrera’s homer was his first since May 6th, a span of 208 plate appearances, and first as a right-handed hitter this season. The outfielder later singled off Price and now as 10 hits in 21 at-bats versus left-handed pitchers after he started the season 4-for-50.
Eaton started a sixth-inning rally with a triple and after Price hit Abreu, Garcia singled in a run to make it 3-0. Adam LaRoche’s sac fly gave the White Sox a four-run lead.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
For seven innings, Samardzija made it look plentiful.
He limited the Tigers to a walk and a hit over the first five innings, never allowing a runner to reach scoring position. All the while, Samardzija was economical with his pitches as he needed only 57 through five.
Samardzija worked around the first sign of trouble in the sixth with relative ease. Gose drew a one-out walk and Kinsler singled. But Samardzija retired Cabrera and Martinez on harmless fly balls and returned with a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.
Samardzija allowed four earned runs and five hits with three walks in 7 1/3 innings.
“You are looking at where his pitch count was and then they didn’t really get much going off of him,” Ventura said. “I think at that point they had two hits. He was very strong as he was going through that.
“If you pull him out and somebody gives it up, you kick yourself for that one. If you leave him in and it goes like that, you kick yourself. You just live with it.”