Tigers 8, White Sox 5
Joaquin Benoit is enjoying a little extra attention these days.
That's taken some getting used to for Detroit's setup man-turned-closer.
The Tigers are promoting Benoit's campaign to win the final vote for the American League All-Star team, and on a night when orange ''Vote BENOIT'' shirts were all over Comerica Park, the veteran right-hander closed out Detroit's 8-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
''A little bit shaky - I guess too excited for everything that's going on with the fan votes,'' Benoit said. ''If I don't get there, I'm really just happy because everybody's voting for me.''
Benoit walked two in the ninth, but was able to finish the game. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera - who are already on the All-Star team - had three hits apiece for the Tigers on Wednesday night, including a two-run homer by Fielder.
Detroit allowed 23 hits in an 11-4 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday, but it was the Tigers who did the slugging early on in this game. Fielder lined his two-run shot to right field in the first inning for his 16th homer of the year.
Alex Avila's two-run single in the third put Detroit ahead 5-1.
Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham homered for Chicago.
Detroit's Rick Porcello (6-6) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.
The Tigers' bullpen has been shaky all season, but Benoit has been used more as a closer lately. He's now 8-for-8 in save chances, and he lowered his ERA to 1.69.
He's part of a group of five relievers up for a final vote for the AL All-Star team. The others are Toronto's Steve Delabar, the New York Yankees' David Robertson, Texas' Tanner Scheppers, and Boston's Koji Uehara.
''It's probably the only thing I haven't accomplished in my career,'' Benoit said. ''I've been to the World Series last year, I've been to the playoffs. I've been a starter, I've been a reliever. I've done almost everything - now an All-Star game wouldn't be bad.''
The Tigers extended their AL Central lead over second-place Cleveland to 3 1/2 games.
Chicago's Dylan Axelrod (3-6) allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Cabrera's run-scoring single in the sixth pushed his major league-leading RBI total to 93.
''It's hard to put in perspective,'' Porcello said. ''That's a career season for the majority of guys in baseball, and that's only his first half.''
Chicago's Alex Rios was hitless a night after going 6 for 6, and the White Sox never led Wednesday. After Gillaspie's homer in the second, the Tigers made it 3-1 on Austin Jackson's RBI triple in the bottom of the inning.
Axelrod's problems continued in the third when Avila lined a single to right with the bases loaded. The ball landed just in front of a diving Rios, and two runs came home.
''Ax wasn't sharp, and that's a tough lineup to face when you don't have your best stuff,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''His velocity was down all night, and he wasn't getting much from his pitches. When you do that against the Tigers, they will squeeze you, make you throw the ball over the plate and then they beat you.''
Axelrod has allowed 29 earned runs in 28 innings in his last six starts.
Porcello won his second straight start - he blanked Cleveland for seven innings last week. Chicago scored twice in the fourth on an RBI single by Dayan Viciedo and a sacrifice fly by Beckham, but right fielder Torii Hunter made a diving, back-handed catch on Beckham's hit to prevent further damage.
Porcello struck out six without a walk.
Detroit added three runs in the sixth on consecutive RBI singles by Cabrera, Fielder and Victor Martinez. That made it 8-3, but Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon allowed Beckham's homer and an RBI double by Alexei Ramirez in a shaky seventh.
Then Detroit turned to two relievers who have been pretty sharp in 2013. Drew Smyly worked a perfect eighth, and Benoit pitched the ninth.
NOTES: All eight of Detroit's runs came with two out. ... Martinez had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Chicago left-hander Chris Sale (5-8) faces Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez (7-5) on Thursday.