There are worse things in life than losing to the Detroit Tigers, but the White Sox didn't want to be the first ones to go down for the count in 2002.
After beating Detroit 7-5 Wednesday to end their eight-game trip at .500, the Sox breathed a sigh of relief and headed back to Chicago for some much-needed R&R before Friday's home opener at Comiskey Park.
"It was a big game," said Frank Thomas after hitting a three-run homer in the fifth that proved to be the decisive blow. "We didn't want them to win their first game against us."
Keith Foulke, pitching in his first save situation since blowing a three-run, ninth-inning lead April 3 in Seattle, threw two perfect innings to close it out. Antonio Osuna notched the victory in relief as the Sox bullpen threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Now it's home sweet home for the Sox.
"Normally road trips are just something you deal with," Foulke said. "But I'll tell you what. Spring training feels like it was two months ago. We've been on the road for almost three weeks it seems like.
"I can't wait to go home, get an off day, come to the ballpark Friday and hopefully we get good support and can keep this going."
The Sox evened their record at 4-4, while the Tigers fell to 0-8, matching their worst start since 1952. The franchise record for most losses to start the season is 13, set in 1920.
The 1988 Orioles hold the major-league record with 21 straight losses to start a season, while the 1997 Cubs went 0-14 before breaking through.
Sox right-hander Jon Garland struggled again in his second start, failing to get out of the fifth inning despite being handed a three-run lead.
"Today was more important to win than to develop [Garland]," manager Jerry Manuel said. "He had good stuff. He just didn't make wise pitches at times."
The Sox trailed 3-1 with two outs in the fifth when Royce Clayton's triple off Jose Lima brought Carlos Lee home to kick off a five-run inning. Kenny Lofton followed with a game-tying single down the left-field line. After a walk to Ray Durham, Thomas followed with a three-run homer to left, his second in as many games.
But Garland, who served up leadoff home runs to Bobby Higginson and Dmitri Young in the first and third innings, couldn't get the three outs necessary to qualify for his first victory. After a single and Randall Simon's two-run home run pulled the Tigers to 6-5, Garland gave up an infield hit and another single, prompting his exit.
Osuna bailed Garland out of the inning and escaped his own bases-loaded jam in the sixth, and the Tigers left the bases loaded again in the seventh when Bob Howry induced Craig Paquette into an inning-ending force play.
"It's good the guys went out there and we came from behind," Foulke said. "Obviously our bullpen isn't as bad as what we looked like in that first week. Several guys went out there and did their jobs.
"That's what the bullpen isgo out there and do the grunt work and throw some scoreless innings. That's what we're paid to do."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times