DETROIT — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire knew he was going to have to make some pitching decisions Sunday with long reliever Blaine Hardy on the mound.
He didn't expect the call would be whether Hardy should stay in for the eighth inning.
Hardy pitched a career-high seven innings, leading the Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the lowly Chicago White Sox.
"Did I expect this? No chance," said Hardy, who had never pitched more than five innings during his major league career. "I was hoping I could get through five and turn the game over to the bullpen."
Hardy allowed one run and three hits, struck out six and walked one in his third start of the season. The 31-year-old left-hander is helping out in the rotation while Jordan Zimmermann is out with a shoulder issue.
With temperatures approaching 90 degrees, Hardy said he had to adjust to the heat.
"I was already trying to catch my breath in the first inning, because it was so hot," he said. "But once I got through five, I felt good enough to go back out there, and I still felt good after six. I was OK with not going out there for the eighth, though."
Hardy retired his last 14 batters. He is 3-0 in 63 appearances over the past three seasons.
"It was huge for this ballclub to have Blaine go out there and do that for us," Gardenhire said. "We thought about sending him back out there, but we thought we had a better option."
After seven innings of Hardy's cutters and changeups, hard-throwing Joe Jimenez struck out the side on 12 pitches in the eighth.
"I was laughing in the dugout, because I might have hit 86 or 87 a couple times, and Joe comes in throwing 97," Hardy said. "They didn't really have a chance."
Shane Greene allowed Jose Rondon's homer in the ninth before finishing for his 13th save.
The last-place White Sox (16-34) lost for the third time in four games.
"I wish I could change our record for everybody, but I can't worry about that," manager Rick Renteria said. "I have to worry about how we are progressing from game to game."
James Shields (1-5) gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out four.
"I was grinding out there," he said. "I had too many walks. Every one of them scored, and that's something I should be able to control."
The Tigers jumped in front on Grayson Greiner's one-out RBI double in the second, but Shields prevented a bigger inning by picking John Hicks off third and retiring Jose Iglesias.
Yolmer Sanchez hit a tying RBI triple with one out in the third, and the White Sox appeared to add another run when Rondon swung at a two-strike wild pitch with two out. He reached first and Sanchez scored, but umpire Pat Hoberg ruled Rondon out for hitting Greiner's helmet with his backswing.
Dixon Machado put Detroit ahead to stay with a fifth-inning RBI single, ending a 0-for-16 stretch, and Nicholas Castellanos added his own RBI single two batters later. Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases with two out, but Victor Martinez flew out to end the inning.
White Sox: RHP Danny Farquhar, who will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a brain hemorrhage on April 20, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before Chicago's game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera took batting practice and fielded groundballs at first. The Tigers are hoping he can play this week after being out since May 4 with a hamstring strain.
Castellanos went 1 for 4 with much of his family in the stands for his bobblehead day. His father told the local TV broadcast he paid for his own ticket, but Castellanos was quick to clear that up.
"I just want everyone who saw that to know my dad's a liar," he said with a smile. "He has never paid for a ticket since I became a professional baseball player and he never will. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't signed me up for T-ball and supported me the whole way."
White Sox: Play a Monday afternoon game for the opener of a three-game set at Cleveland. Dylan Covey (1-0, 3.46 ERA) is scheduled to start for Chicago against Adam Plutko (1-0, 2.03 ERA).
Tigers: Open a four-game home series with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday afternoon. Matthew Boyd (2-4, 3.29 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener against Tyler Skaggs (3-3, 3.11 ERA) of the Angels.