(Sports Network) - Despite their domination of fellow American League Central residents this season, the Tigers don't hold a very big lead for the division's top spot.
The White Sox are one of the teams still hunting Detroit, but a brutal upcoming homestand could make-or-break their season.
Detroit looks to create some separation atop the standings tonight in the opener of a three-game set with Chicago, which begins a string of 10 straight at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Tigers are 11 games over .500 against the AL Central this year, posting a 22-11 mark in that span. They prevented the Twins from getting any closer in the standings by taking three of four over the club, including Sunday's 5-2 victory to close out the set.
Rick Porcello hurled six innings of two-run ball in Minnesota and Detroit scored a pair of runs on wild pitches, helping the club chase Twins starter Francisco Liriano after just 2 1/3 innings.
Jhonny Peralta, Wilson Betemit and Ramon Santiago each had an RBI for the Tigers, who lead the second-place Indians by two games.
"It's tough to go into anyone's home territory and get some big wins," said Austin Jackson. "We did that tonight. We were patient off Liriano, we got some cheap hits and we put some things together."
Detroit's record versus the AL Central includes a 6-3 mark in its head-to-head meetings with Chicago. Detroit won two of three in the lone meeting so far in the Windy City on June 3-5 and has won 14 of the past 18 matchups overall. The Tigers have won seven of eight at U.S. Cellular Field in that span.
The White Sox actually gave Detroit a hand on Sunday, beating the Indians 4-2. Three of those runs were unearned as Mark Teahen had an RBI single and Juan Pierre chipped in with a double for Chicago, which picked up its second straight victory.
Edwin Jackson worked six solid innings to earn the win, giving up a pair of runs on five hits.
"It wasn't the best-looking performance, but it was a battle," Jackson said. "We had a chance to capitalize on a couple of mistakes they made and it definitely helped us."
The White Sox sit 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers, but may find making up ground difficult over the next 10 games. They will welcome a trio of playoff-caliber clubs to town, including the Red Sox and Yankees after this series.
That will put some pressure on Mark Buehrle to get the White Sox off to a good start tonight and the veteran should be up to the task. Chicago has won his last five trips to the hill, but the lefty halted a personal five-start winless drought (0-1) with a victory over the Royals on Monday.
Buehrle gave up two runs over seven innings to improve to 7-5 with a 3.38 earned run average this season. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in 14 straight outings since getting tagged for six in a road loss to the Tigers on April 22.
The 32-year-old was better the last time he faced Detroit, holding the club to three runs on 10 hits over six innings of a home win on June 3. That gave him a 17-9 mark and 3.22 ERA in his career versus the Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-4 with a pair of walks versus Buehrle, this year, while Alex Avila had two doubles and an RBI in six at-bats. Brennan Boesch has also done well versus the veteran in 2011, going 3-for-5 with an RBI.
The Tigers counter with a young arm in 25-year-old Duane Below, who made his major league debut last Wednesday versus the Athletics.
Below did not get a decision in his team's 7-5 loss, giving up three runs -- one earned -- on five hits over five-plus innings. He was a part of history for the wrong reason, giving up Hideki Matsui's 500th professional homer to begin the sixth inning.
The Michigan-born lefty will make his first road start and went 9-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 starts with Triple-A Toledo before joining the big-league club.