Win puts Tigers in tiebreaker with Twins for Central crown

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers did their part Sunday, then found cozy spots in their clubhouse, cafeteria or manager's office to root for Kansas City to beat Minnesota.

No such luck.

Justin Verlander pitched into the eighth inning in the Tigers' 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox, but the Twins routed the Royals to force a tiebreaker for the AL Central title Tuesday at the Metrodome.

"It's going to be fun," Detroit's Curtis Granderson said. "I'm sure Minnesota is going to be rocking."

Detroit, hoping to win its first division title since 1987, will start 20-year-old rookie Rick Porcello against Scott Baker.

"He's been young all year and he pitched awful good against Minnesota the other day," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I know one thing for a fact -- he will not be scared. He'll be excited."

The slumping Tigers got the pitching performance and offense they needed -- along with a clutch defensive play -- in the final scheduled game of the season to avoid ending the year with a thud.

Verlander was solid on the mound, Ryan Raburn was spectacular at the plate with two homers and a rejuvenated Magglio Ordonez continued his late-season tear with a solo shot as part of a 4-for-4 day.

"I'm awful proud of our team," Leyland said. "Have we been perfect? No. Do you wish you would've had it wrapped right now? Do you think you should've? Yes.

"But when you also think that people were picking you fourth in the division in the winter and spring and after 162 games, you're tied for first place -- that's not bad."

A big catch by Granderson in center helped the Tigers end a three-game skid and win for just the third time in eight games.

"What a play," Verlander said. "If he misses that who knows? It could've been a tie game."

After getting a game-ending double play, the Tigers seemed to know there was still work to do because they celebrated as if it was just another victory by simply shaking hands on the infield.

"We got one more game and, hopefully, a whole lot more," Raburn said.

The Tigers, of course, had been watching the scoreboard and saw that Minnesota took a big, early lead over Kansas City.

"C'mon, keep going!" Leyland shouted at the TV in his office when Kansas City homered to pulled within four in the sixth inning. The Twins went on to win 13-4.

Verlander (19-9) was handed a 5-0 lead, then left in the eighth as it got tense at Comerica Park.

Down 5-3, the White Sox had two on when Carlos Quentin hit a shallow fly with two outs. Granderson sprinted a long way and made a fully extended, diving catch to end the inning.

Fernando Rodney got the final four outs for his 37th save in 38 chances.

Verlander set a career high in wins and matched the most any pitcher had in the majors this year.

The 26-year-old right-hander was dominant through seven innings -- giving up just two hits -- before allowing three runs, four hits and a walk in the eighth.

"I tip my hat to Verlander," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That kid went out and did what everyone in the Tigers organization expected him to do."

Detroit got the strong start it needed to end its skid, which included a game against Minnesota on Thursday when it could've clinched the division title.

"We would have like to close it out today, but we've still got a chance," Verlander said. "We've got Rick going, and he's been great lately. We're still alive."

Chicago's John Danks (13-11) gave up four runs and seven hits over five innings, putting him over the 200-inning mark for the first time in his three-season career.

"It was nice to get to 200 innings, but I would have liked to get out of here on a better note," Danks said. "I hope there's a game Tuesday because I wouldn't want my performance today to decide this."

The defending AL Central champion White Sox finished the season 79-83.

"Our season was very bad," Guillen said.

Game notes
Tigers star Miguel Cabrera said he just wanted to focus on the game when he was asked Sunday morning about the bruise and cut on his left cheek. Cabrera was 0 for 3, finishing the homestand 5 for 26. ... Ordonez, whose fielding blunder in Saturday night's loss was the picture above the fold on the front page of The Detroit Free Press on Sunday, collected newspapers from the clubhouse and filled up a trash can with them before the game. "Why not?" Ordonez said. "We don't read that." ... Guillen explained why he didn't argue the Tigers were off the bag for one of their outs in the ninth inning. "It's the last day of the season, and I've donated enough money to Major League Baseball," Guillen said. "That's $500, and I can run my boat in Venezuela for two months on that."