Justin Verlander stymies White Sox as Tigers triumph

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander struck out A.J. Pierzynski and headed toward the dugout, and his team's head trainer saved the ball for him.

It was his 1,000th strikeout.

"I had no idea," the Detroit ace said. "I'm not really one to follow statistics like that, so I'm glad somebody was paying attention."

Verlander pitched seven impressive innings through a misty rain, and Ryan Raburn drove in four runs to lead the Tigers over the Chicago White Sox 9-3 on Friday night. Verlander reached his milestone with his eighth strikeout of the game -- against his final batter before he left after seven innings.

"The combination of Verlander and the weather is pretty tough," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's a cold, wet night and we're going against a guy who is hitting 97, 98 [mph] on his fastball and 84 on his changeup. There aren't too many like him."

Verlander (2-2) allowed four hits, including two home runs by Carlos Quentin and another by Paul Konerko. He didn't walk a batter.

Raburn hit a two-run homer for the Tigers, who have won seven straight over the White Sox.

Chicago has lost eight of its past nine overall. Mark Buehrle (1-2) went 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs and eight hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Detroit scored two runs each in the second and third, and Verlander retired the first 11 Chicago batters before Quentin hit his first of two long home runs, an estimated 427 feet over the left-field wall.

"It's nice to have a lead -- four, five, six runs -- as a starting pitcher," Verlander said. "You can go out there and try to be a little bit more aggressive with your fastball and try to get some quick outs."

Verlander breezed through spring training with a 0.96 ERA, determined to avoid another rough start after enduring difficult Aprils in past years. He threw 117 pitches Friday, laboring only after Detroit had taken a big lead.

The start of the game was delayed 12 minutes because of rain, but that didn't seem to bother Verlander. He struck out Juan Pierre to begin the night, and Detroit broke through early against Buehrle. After Miguel Cabrera singled in the second, Jhonny Peralta hit a triple past a diving Alex Rios in right-center. Peralta scored on Brennan Boesch's sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Raburn's homer in the third doubled the lead.

Rain was clearly visible up near the light fixtures in the third and remained throughout the rest of the game, although it was never hard enough for another delay.

Alex Avila's RBI double in the fourth made it 5-1, and Avila doubled and scored on a single by Casper Wells in the sixth.

"Where I'm at with our lineup, whoever's left on base, I've just got to try and get them in and at least do my part," said Avila, who hit eighth Friday.

Quentin led off the seventh with his sixth homer of the season, this one a 409-footer. Konerko followed with a shot to left that might have gone just as far had it not hit the pole to make it 6-3. Verlander recovered and eventually struck out the last two batters of the inning, getting Pierzynski swinging for No. 1,000.

"That's a very powerful club. They're going to obviously hit a lot of home runs," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "The key is to keep people off the base, so they're not three-run homers, two-run homers."

Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth for the Tigers, and Detroit added three more runs in the bottom of that inning on an RBI double by Wells and a two-run single by Raburn.

Although the save situation was long gone, closer Jose Valverde worked the ninth.

Game notes
It was Quentin's 11th career multihomer game. ... Cabrera made a diving stop on Omar Vizquel's grounder behind first base and flipped the ball to Verlander to end the top of the sixth. ... Quentin has 24 hits this season, 17 of which went for extra bases.