White Sox put pressure back on Tigers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox not only won the first game of this critical four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, they put the 2011 division champions on notice.

The Tigers had won seven straight in the season series leading up to Monday night’s 6-1 victory by the White Sox. Despite the Sox’s two-game division lead, there was much to prove for Robin Ventura’s ball club. The pressure has certainly shifted to the Tigers, who need to take two out of three in the rest of the series.

“There were a lot of good signs tonight,” first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Just a good win. This time of the year a win is a win, and if you pick up a game even better.”

The White Sox caught a break with Detroit flying back late Sunday night from Los Angeles, but good clubs like Chicago capitalize on the little mistakes other teams make.

“At this point of the season you try to win a series,” Konerko said. “We got the first game of this series tonight, so that is a good step at trying to win three out of four. You don’t go much beyond that and really that is too far ahead.”

Ventura believes the victory over Detroit was an important statement for the Sox to make to themselves. Chicago had been manhandled by Detroit in the last two series the teams have played .

“We realize Detroit is a good team,” Ventura said. “We still have to play. You forget about (the past). They have to realize where they are at and appreciate where they are at and realize they are a good team, too.”

Going into the series, Tiger manager Jim Leyland said containing the Sox’s home run hitters was essential.

“Against this team it is pretty simple,” Leyland said. “You have to keep them in the ballpark. They hit the ball out of the ballpark. They have 181 home runs.”

That’s precisely what Detroit’s pitching struggled to do, as all six of the White Sox’s runs came via the long ball, and they now have 31 home runs in their last 16 home games.