From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Alex Rios went barreling into second base with a hard slide that teammate Gordon Beckham said might be the biggest play of the season for the White Sox as they try to win the AL Central.Rios was trying to break up a double play and when he went into Detroit second baseman Omar Infante, it caused an errant throw that allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score Monday as the White Sox beat the Tigers 5-4 and went up three games in division."That's a situation where every second baseman knows we're coming in hard. And it was a clean slide, and we took advantage of that," Rios said. "We scored two runs on that play and ended up winning the game, so it was a big play."The game had been postponed by rain last Thursday and Monday's makeup was the final meeting of the season between the two front runners in the division.Detroit won the season series 12-6 and captured nine of the final 11 games between the teams, including two of three last week before the four-game series finale was postponed.Each team has 16 games remaining. Chicago heads to Kansas City and Anaheim to finish out this week while Detroit goes home to face the Athletics and Twins."There is still a lot of time left for both teams. ... We just got to continue to grind and hope that what we do every day, day in and day out, is enough," Beckham said. "This is probably still going to go down to the wire."Rios' fifth-inning slide was the talk of the locker room after the game as was Chicago's bullpen that pitched five scoreless innings after starter Jose Quintana struggled."That was a tough play for that second baseman to make that turn. I've been there before," Beckham said. "It's everything you can do to just get it off. What a great slide and I just told him (Rios) that might be the play of the year so far. Pretty special."When Dayan Viciedo hit a one-out grounder to short, the Tigers tried to turn the inning-ending double play, but Rios' slide forced an errant throw from Infante that got by Prince Fielder as two runs scored, giving Chicago the lead. And then the bullpen held it."Rios got down there pretty good, we just didn't get the turn. Maybe if (Infante) could have come across the bag more," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "It was a tough double play. Rios got down there. When he hit it, I thought it was a sure double play."Infante, who also made a costly error last Monday that helped the White Sox to a win, said he was spiked on the play by Rios, but offered no excuses."It's hard to do. It's hard to throw once he hit me," Infante said. "I have to make the throw. I feel bad because I've made a lot of errors knowing the team needed different."Nate Jones (8-0) pitched 2 2-3 innings of one-hit relief and the White Sox won their fourth straight. Addison Reed, the last of three relievers in the ninth, got the final out for his 27th save in 31 chances.Trailing 4-3, the White Sox loaded the bases for a third straight inning in the fifth, driving out Detroit starter Doug Fister (9-9).Delmon Young drove in three runs for the Tigers with a pair of singles, but Detroit couldn't hold on to an early 3-0 lead. Tigers pitchers walked six and hit two batters.Chicago loaded the bases again in the eighth and was on the verge of adding an insurance run when Adam Dunn hit a fly ball to left with one out. But before Beckham could cross the plate, Dewayne Wise was thrown out trying to go from second to third -- a double play that ended the inning. It ended up not costing the White Sox."I made a mistake there, I'll be the first guy to tell you. I almost blew it right there," Wise said. "I've been playing this game too long to make a mistake like. I'm just thankful that we pulled it out."Neither starter got out of the fifth. Quintana, who beat the Tigers a week ago in his previous start, gave up seven hits and four runs in four. And Fister, who defeated the White Sox last Tuesday, gave up eight hits and five runs -- four -- earned, also in four innings.Avisail Garcia, Gerald Laird and Austin Jackson hit consecutive singles to open the third for a 1-0 Detroit lead. After a sacrifice, Quintana intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases. He then struck out Prince Fielder, but Young hit a two-run single to put the Tigers up three.The White Sox had three singles off Fister to load the bases in the bottom half but the 6-foot-8 right-hander struck out Kevin Youkilis and Dunn to end the threat. Chicago tied it in the fourth when Beckham was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Wise had a two-run single.Cabrera led off the fifth with a double and Fielder was ruled safe at first when Dunn fielded his grounder and flipped to Quintana covering. Chicago manager Robin Ventura came out for an explanation from first base umpire Mike Muchlinski and replays appeared to show that Quintana beat Fielder to the bag by a step.Young followed with another RBI single to put the Tigers ahead 4-3.Notes: Young, who had seven RBIs when the Tigers swept a series from the White Sox earlier this month in Detroit, has 28 RBIs in 40 games at U.S. Cellular Field. .. Tigers C Alex Avila was out of the starting lineup after colliding with Fielder on Sunday chasing a pop in Cleveland. He got a headache after batting practice. ... Wise was the White Sox's leadoff hitter a second straight game with Alejandro De Aza sitting out. Ventura said De Aza had been a bit out of sync.
SAN JOSE – Sharks center/forward Tomas Hertl has taken another step in his recovery from a right knee sprain and subsequent surgery.
The 23-year-old is now doing contract drills, and called himself “almost day-to-day now” on Saturday.
“Last two days I’m working on battles, and I feel pretty good,” Hertl said. “Everything is going right. Hopefully coming closer and closer to playing. … Just [need to be] more comfortable with battling, because skating and everything, I feel like 100 percent.”
Hertl didn’t completely shoot down a suggestion that he could play before the All-Star break, which begins on Friday, but indicated it’s more likely to be sometime after that. The Sharks resume their schedule on Jan. 31 against Chicago after next weekend’s breather.
“We want [to take] a little bit of time, more battles, a little bit more workouts,” Hertl said. “But, I think I’m pretty close. We’ll see how it goes the next couple days.”
The timeline has been fluid with Hertl, who was originally expected to miss “weeks” rather than months, general manager Doug Wilson said shortly after the injury on Nov. 17. On Jan. 5, a source with knowledge of Hertl’s status told CSN he was unlikely to play before mid-February, but it now appears he’ll be back sooner than that.
“Looks great,” coach Pete DeBoer said of Hertl. “I don't know if that's a testament to our group or his progress, but he looked fantastic out there. He's getting very close. We're starting to talk about him on a daily basis, which is a good sign."
Hertl suffered his knee injury during a game with St. Louis on Nov. 17 after what looked like a fairly innocent collision with the Blues’ Jori Lehtera, and underwent what Wilson termed a “minor procedure” on Nov. 22 designed to prevent further knee injuries from occurring. It was at least the third known procedure that Hertl has undergone on his right knee.
In 17 games, Hertl has nine points (4g, 5a).
Programming note – Sharks-Avalanche coverage starts today at 7:00 on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 28-16-2, 58 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Avalanche: 13-29-1, 27 points, 7th Central Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***Not only are the Avalanche buried in last place in the Central Division, but they are just 2-14-0 in their last 16 games, including losses in their last four. Colorado has not won a game in regulation since Dec. 11 in Toronto, getting just a pair of overtime wins since then.
The Sharks visit Pepsi Center on Monday for the second of a back-to-back. It should be four points in the bank, but, predictably that's not the approach they’re taking.
“You don’t look at where they’re at in the standings,” Logan Couture said. “They’ve got some very good players, some top end skill up front. So, we know it’s going to be a tough game. They can create a lot off the rush, those guys. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Sharks have won three straight, and are 5-2-0 in their last seven.
Pete DeBoer said: “For me, this more of a mindset game. We've been playing some very solid hockey the last few games against some tough opponents, and we have to bring that mindset in here again tonight."
***In goal, Martin Jones will return after it was Aaron Dell in net for Thursday’s win over Tampa Bay.
The Sharks netminder has struggled after taking a game off, going 1-5-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in six games. Last season, he was just 5-10-1 with a 2.54 GAA and .899 SP the game after not starting.
Colorado will go with Spencer Martin, who will be making his NHL debut. A third round pick in 2013, Martin is 15-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .915 SP in 27 games for San Antonio (AHL).
“Obviously, we don't want to make it easy on him,” DeBoer said. “We want to fire pucks and get traffic and get lots of action around the net, but we're not spending a whole lot of time on that.”
***The Sharks will ice their same lineup from Thursday, other than the goaltender change. Timo Meier remains out with an upper body injury.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Ryan Carpenter. The 26-year-old center opened the scoring in the Sharks’ win over Tampa Bay on Thursday, and is making his case to stay on roster at least while Tomas Hertl remains out. Carpenter, who has two goals, eight shots, and a plus-three rating in five games this season, will play in his third straight game tonight after getting recalled early in the week.
Avalanche: Matt Nieto. After he was pushed out of the Sharks’ lineup, Matt Nieto was waived by San Jose and promptly claimed by Colorado on Jan. 5. Wearing his familiar uniform number 83, Nieto scored his first goal with the Avalanche on Tuesday against Chicago, and has two points and eight shots on goal in five games with his new team.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (starter)
Mikko Rantanen – Nathan Mackinnon – Rene Bourque
Gabriel Landeskog – Matt Duchene – Matt Nieto
Blake Comeau – Carl Soderberg – Jarome Iginla
Joe Colborne – John Mitchell – Mikhail Grigorekno
Fedor Tyutin – Tyson Barrie
Cody Goloubef – Nikita Zadorov
Francois Beauchemin – Eric Gelinas
Spencer Martin (starter)
Sharks: Timo Meier (upper body), Micheal Haley (lower body), Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.
Avalanche: Semyon Varlamov (groin) and Erik Johnson (broken fibula) are out.
“It’s a bittersweet moment. Selfishly, you’re upset that you’re not going to be on the same team as him anymore and you’re not going to see him every day, but the other part of you is happy for him because he’s going to get an opportunity somewhere.”– Logan Couture, on Matt Nieto getting claimed by Avalanche earlier this month.