Jeff Samardzija delivered a sorely needed well-pitched game for the Chicago White Sox in the opener of this three-game series.
They could use another from Chris Sale on Wednesday night against the visiting Detroit Tigers, whom the left-hander has defeated more than any other pitcher since 2013.
The White Sox (9-14) had scored 10 runs while losing a season-worst five straight, though they hadn't been given much of a chance by their starters, who posted a 9.97 ERA.
Samardzija's gem might be a turning point. He limited Detroit to two runs over seven innings in a 5-2 victory Tuesday, knocking the Tigers from atop the AL Central.
"We just needed to regroup and understand that we have a great team here and we just need to go out and do what we do," Samardzija said. "We came out and played a strong game."
Sale (2-1, 5.32 ERA) is coming off an ERA-inflating outing, allowing eight earned runs over three innings - both tying career worsts - in Thursday's 12-2 loss at Minnesota. He had been essentially the only reliable cog in Chicago's rotation through his first three starts, holding opponents to five runs over 19 innings.
"I didn't put guys away when I should have or had the chance," he said. "Hitting is contagious. You give a team like that energy, and they're going to roll with it. And that's what they did."
His track record suggests he'll be much better against Detroit. He has turned in nine straight quality starts, going 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in the last seven. His five victories against the division rival since 2013 are the most in baseball and only Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie has more than three.
The Tigers (17-10) have slowed down offensively, scoring two runs or fewer in four of five after averaging 4.9 runs previously.
"We hit some balls pretty hard that got caught," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Sometimes, you lose, sometimes you beat yourself, sometimes they beat you and tonight, they just beat us."
Miguel Cabrera was hitless for the third time in four games and hasn't fared well against Sale, going 7 for 32 with 12 strikeouts. Victor Martinez is hitting .203 but is 15 for 32 with three homers and three doubles off Sale.
Alfredo Simon (4-1, 3.13) is hoping to shake a disastrous showing of his own Thursday at Kansas City. The right-hander gave up six runs over 4 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss after yielding five runs over 27 1-3 while winning his first four starts.
Simon hasn't faced the White Sox since 2010, posting an 8.31 ERA in four relief appearances with Baltimore that season.
The end of the White Sox's losing streak didn't mean the end of their poor defensive play. They committed three errors two days after being charged with four against Minnesota.
"You have to be able to clean it up to win consistently," manager Robin Ventura said. "That's never going to change. No team stays that consistent if you can't clean up your defense."
Jose Iglesias was a late scratch for the Tigers due to groin tightness, which caused him to leave Sunday's 6-4 win at Kansas City. The shortstop, who is 3 for 16 over his last six games, could be back as soon as Wednesday.