By SARAH TROTTO | Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Javier Báez egged on Chicago fans after hitting a home run, and the Detroit Tigers won 7-2 Saturday night to push the White Sox closer to elimination in the AL Central.
Cleveland has a magic number of one to close out the White Sox to win the division. Before Chicago lost its fifth in a row, the team announced manager Tony La Russa will not return to the dugout this season.
Báez hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning. As he rounded the bases, the former Cubs star held his hand to his ear, stretched out his arms and made a chatter motion as fans booed him.
“It’s fun. It makes me focus and it makes me play better,” he said of the consistent booing from the Chicago crowd. “It’s good for me.”
La Russa, who turns 78 on Oct. 4, had “additional testing and medical procedures over the past week,” the team said Saturday. Doctors have directed the Hall of Famer to stay away from managing for the rest of the season.
La Russa left the White Sox before an Aug. 30 game against Kansas City to deal with a heart issue. Chicago is 13-11 under bench coach Miguel Cairo, who will continue as acting White Sox manager.
“There are 10 more games, and you have to challenge yourself to go out there and do your job and perform,” Cairo said.
Báez and Harold Castro each had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs. Riley Greene also had three hits for the last-place Tigers, who have won four of five. They improved to 6-12 against Chicago.
Detroit took a 3-2 lead in the fifth after singles by Greene, Báez and Castro.
Greene added an RBI single in the seventh before Báez homered off Jake Diekman for a 7-2 lead.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Báez embraces the interaction with the fans.
“He likes being the villain,” Hinch said. “He loves the city. Don’t let them kid you. They come down and want his autograph and want a picture with him more than they want him to fail.”
Eloy Jiménez and Gavin Sheets homered on consecutive pitches by Drew Hutchinson (3-9) to tie it at 2 in the White Sox fourth. Jiménez and Sheets each have 15 homers.
“It’s not an excuse, but this lineup, it wasn’t together pretty much for the big part of the season,” Jiménez said. “It’s hard when you don’t have your guys (in) your good lineup.”
Castro hit a two-run homer off Davis Martin (2-5) for a 2-0 lead in the first after the White Sox were unable to complete a double play. Martin gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Hutchinson allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.
Tigers: RHP Joe Jiménez (right lumbar spine strain) was placed on the 15-day injured list Saturday, ending his season. He is expected to avoid surgery. …RHP Angel De Jesus was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
White Sox: OF Luis Robert (sprained left wrist) went on the 10-day injured list Saturday and has been shut down. … OF Mark Payton was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. … RHP Joe Kelly was reinstated from the family medical leave list. … LHP Tanner Banks was optioned to Charlotte. … A return for SS Tim Anderson (left middle finger surgery) is uncertain. He was expected to miss six to eight weeks after he was sidelined Aug. 9. “It’s really a question of does it make sense at this point in the year to try to rush into that two-week window or let nature take its course and send him into the offseason fully healed,” general manager Rick Hahn said. … RHP Michael Kopech’s right shoulder is doing well, but the team has discussed when a cyst in his knee will be removed, Hahn said. Kopech (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day injured list Sept. 17.
LHP Tyler Alexander (4-10, 4.91 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale for Detroit. RHP Dylan Cease (14-7, 2.13), whose ERA ranks second in the AL, takes the mound for Chicago.
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