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Tigers come back from three down in ninth to make it 12 in a row

Jose Valverde

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde celebrates the Tigers’ 6-5 win in the 10th inning of a baseball game over the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


As Hawk Harrelson would say if he weren’t limited to moans and groans at the moment, the Tigers have owned the White Sox this year. They rallied from three runs down in the ninth and prevailed 6-5 in the 10th today, giving them a 12th straight victory.

It’s the longest winning streak by a team this year and the longest for the Tigers since 1934. They finished the season series with the White Sox winning 13 out of 18 games.

Alex Avila, who didn’t start, and Carlos Guillen, who hadn’t started in 11 days, were the heroes in this one. Serving as a pinch-hitter for just the second time this year, Avila hit a game-tying two-run homer off Sergio Santos in the ninth. Guillen homered in the second and delivered the go-ahead single in the 10th as part of a 3-for-5 days.

The comeback denied Dylan Axelrod a victory in his first major league start. He left with a 5-2 lead after striking out eight in six innings. Tigers starter Brad Penny gave up all five White Sox runs. Four of them were unearned, but it was Penny’s own error that preceded the runs.

Avila’s homer was his 19th and gave him 77 RBI on the season. Miguel Cabrera is the second Tiger expected to get some down-ballot MVP votes this year, but I’m not sure Avila isn’t more deserving. He’s played in 128 games this season and has a .919 OPS. The only primary catcher within even 100 points of OPS of him is Atlanta’s Brian McCann at .841.