With time running out and their biggest slugger shelved indefinitely, the White Sox hope a split of their four-game series with Detroit leads to better things this weekend.
They turned in one of their best all-around efforts Thursday in a 10-0 shutout of the Tigers. That cut their deficit to 51/2 games in the American League Central, but another heavyweight division series against Minnesota awaits this weekend.
"This was a good series for [the Tigers]," said Paul Konerko, who took over as designated hitter for injured Jim Thome. "Four games off the schedule, head to head and nothing changed [in the standings]. That's what they wanted, at the very least.
"It wasn't good for us. We wanted to do better, so we'll just have to keep working. The only thing you can say, if they won three or four, that would have been really a knockout. But we're still 51/2 out with this many games [left]. The jury is still out."
The Sox showed they might be able to survive the loss of Thome, who'll probably miss the Minnesota series because of a strained left hamstring, on a short-term basis. Jermaine Dye homered twice to pace a 14-hit attack and surpassed Thome for the team lead with 37 home runs.
Jon Garland (15-4) continued his resurgence with a six-hit complete game and is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his last five starts.
Thome's injury allowed Ross Gload, the team's best defensive first baseman, to play. And the Sox were rewarded when Gload made a diving stop to retire Dmitri Young in the fourth.
Rookie Brian Anderson had two hits, scored twice and made a diving catch to rob Sean Casey of an extra-base hit in the second. He raised his batting average to .228, its highest since the first week of the season.
The Sox are 12-9 as they enter the final weekend of their stretch of 24 games without a day off. Consecutive wins at Detroit have given them some momentum they lacked when they lost two of three last weekend at Minnesota.
"We're going up against two tough pitchers (Brad Radke and Johan Santana) the next two nights," said Konerko, who hit a two-run single in the seventh.
"Hopefully there's a lot of good vibes there, and we can take that into [Friday night]. We're going into a different city. It's not a given that momentum's going to carry. We feel like a good weekend will springboard us. We just have to beat these guys. They've been taking it to us. It's just trying to get some revenge on these guys."
The Sox play Detroit only three more times, at home Sept. 18-20. But this weekend's series presents an opportunity to at least distance themselves from the third-place Twins, who are contending for the AL wild card.
"We still have a chance as long as we keep playing good ball," said Garland, who didn't allow a hit from the fourth inning until Brent Clevlen's single with two outs in the ninth.
An appreciative Garland waited in front of the dugout to thank shortstop Juan Uribe and Anderson for their defensive work in the first two innings.
"Everyone has to step up and they did," said Guillen, who was proud the Sox had gone 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. "When you're missing a guy in the lineup, you have a tendency to feel sorry for yourself. Those guys went out there without Thome and stepped it up a notch. And [Dye] is a big part of that."