CHICAGO (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera probably shouldn't even have been playing Wednesday.
Hard to tell, though, after the aching slugger hit a majestic three-run homer in the third inning to spark the Detroit Tigers to a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
With a day game following an extra-inning night game, and with a crucial five-game series against a division rival coming up this weekend, the rest would have been a prudent prescription for the leg injury Cabrera's been playing with for several days.
"He actually has a shin that's all black and blue," Jim Leyland said. "It terrible, it's terrible looking, but it actually looked a little bit better today. He's still pretty sore. As a manager, you almost feel bad playing him. I can tell that he's hurting, but he wanted to play today, so I put him in there."
Leyland certainly didn't feel bad about the decision afterward. The home run erased an early three-run deficit and gave the Tigers some much needed momentum.
"He's been banged up for about a week," teammate Torii Hunter said of Cabrera. "Miggy, instead of him having to run, he just hits the home run."
Cabrera has homered in five of the last six games.
Despite allowing a season-high 11 hits, Tigers starter Rick Porcello (9-6) allowed just three runs in six innings. Porcello hasn't lost a decision since June 30 at Tampa Bay.
Porcello got off to a miserable start, giving up three runs on four hits in the first inning. Worse, he needed 40 pitches to get the first three outs of the game. Avisail Garcia, and Conor Gillaspie had run-scoring singles, with the other run coming on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Keppinger.
After Cabrera tied the score with his 38th homer, the Tigers broke the game open in the top of the sixth, thanks to some clutch hitting and a White Sox miscue. Omar Infante drove in the go-ahead run with a single, and the final two runs came courtesy of an error by Gillaspie, the third baseman.
The White Sox added a run in the bottom of the eighth on a run-scoring single by Alexei Ramirez to make it 6-4.
Taking no chances, Leyland brought in closer Joaquin Benoit with one out in the eighth. Benoit then proceeded to strike out Adam Dunn and Garcia to end the inning without further damage. He worked out of another jam in the ninth inning for his 15th save in 15 chances.
Even though it occurred in the third inning, the talk of the postgame was Cabrera's homer off of White Sox starter John Danks (2-10).
"He was quick on it," Leyland said. "He just fired his hands -- it looked like a cutter -- and he just pulled his hands in and they were like lightening through the zone. He's remarkable."
Said Danks: "Bad pitch to him. I got him out the first time and I tried to go a little farther inside. I don't think it would have been called a strike."
The way Hunter sees it, that's the key. Pitchers don't want to throw Cabrera fat pitches in the strike zone. "Some of those pitches are balls and he's still hitting them out," Hunter said.
Cabrera, in his bid for an historic second straight Triple Crown, leads the American League in batting average (.360) and is in a tight battle with Baltimore's Chris Davis for home runs and RBIs. With his blast on Wednesday, Cabrera has 114 RBIs.
Hunter believes Cabrera is actually having a better season this year.
"No doubt," he said. "I wasn't here last year, but he's definitely better this year than last."
NOTES: Manager Robin Ventura gave White Sox veteran Paul Konerko the day off. "Guys at that age get a little tighter a day game after a night game," Ventura said. "Let him have a little spa day." . Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 11 games. . The White Sox open a series at Minnesota Thursday night with RHP Andre Rienzo (0-0) facing RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-11). The Tigers are home for the start of a five-game series with the Royals, with RHP Anibal Sanchez (10-7) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (12-8).
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