Boyd, Tigers rout White Sox

Jose Juarez/AP Photo Detroit' Ronny Rodriguez hits his first major league home run against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning on Thursday in Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers held a players’ meeting recently to talk about the importance of competing down the stretch.

“From the beginning of the season, people have been counting us out. We’ve played pretty well this year, given the circumstances,” outfielder Mikie Mahtook said. “At the beginning of the season, if you said Miguel Cabrera would be out … season-ending injury, I don’t think people would think that we’d have this season. I think people all expected us to lose a hundred games.”

Mahtook hit one of three Detroit home runs in the sixth inning, and the Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Thursday. Even after the victory, Detroit is 22 games under .500, but after finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last season, the Tigers have avoided a total collapse in 2018.

Matthew Boyd pitched six scoreless innings for Detroit, and Nicholas Castellanos, Mahtook and Ronny Rodriguez hit solo shots off James Shields (5-15) in the sixth.

“You could see after we hit the first one, he got a little hot. He was a little mad,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He tried to throw it through a brick wall, and we got him a couple more times. That doesn’t happen very often.”

It was the first career home run for Rodriguez, who also hit an RBI double two innings earlier.

Boyd (8-11) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out six.

Jose Rondon hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the White Sox, who fell to 3-10 this season against Detroit.

Chicago manager Rick Renteria missed his fourth straight game since experiencing lightheadedness Monday in Minnesota. The White Sox said he was back in Chicago and would have further testing.

Shields allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He is now 1-8 with 6.12 ERA on the road this year.

Rodriguez opened the scoring with a run-scoring double in the fourth, and Grayson Greiner followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

In the sixth, Detroit hit three home runs in a span of four batters, with Mahtook and Rodriguez connecting for back-to-back drives that gave the Tigers a 5-0 advantage.

“I thought I was good early, but then I started losing the ball up,” Shields said. “I was able to limit the damage for a while, but I got behind Castellanos, and I had to come in on him and he crushed it. Mahtook was a fastball up, but not far enough up, and the next one was just a hanging curve right down the middle.”

Jim Adduci added a two-run double in the seventh.

Cubs beat Reds, 7-1

CHICAGO (AP) — Even though complete games are rare these days, Cole Hamels still likes to finish what he starts.

The 13-year veteran went the distance Thursday night to continue his dramatic turnaround with the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who got home runs from Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez in a 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

“That’s ultimately the goal,” Hamels said. “It’s just tough to do so now. The hitters are better, a lot more research is going into it. As a starter, you just have to grind, you have to pitch.”

Hamels (4-0) allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked two in his 17th career complete game and the first by a Cubs pitcher this season. His ERA in five starts with Chicago is 0.79.

Before being traded to the Cubs last month, the 34-year-old lefty was 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts for the Texas Rangers, including 1-3 with an 11.12 ERA in his last four.

Hamels, though, never doubted he could turn things around.

“I got into a rut in Texas and really was trying to get out of it,” he said. “Sometimes when you strive to do something, you can make it worse. You finally have to give in. You have to get back to the basics.”