The White Sox's patience paid off, although they didn't get their first hit until a four-run sixth inning that paved the way for a 5-3 comeback victory over the winless Tigers.
The Sox worked Willis for seven walks before Jim Thome's double gave them their first hit and first run. Raising Willis' pitch count to 89 over five plus-innings enabled the Sox to exploit the Tigers' injury-riddled bullpen, stretch their winning streak to three games and gain a share of first place in the American League Central.
"Kind of a weird game," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Dontrelle has a no-hitter, and all of a sudden there's like 30 people on base and we twice hit into double plays. We never put our heads down. We know we were going to keep fighting until the end."
Swisher made Willis throw 20 pitches in his first three at-bats—all resulting in walks. His leadoff walk in the sixth ignited the winning rally.
"I haven't been feeling exactly the greatest up at the plate, so all I'm doing is just trying to get on any way possible," said Swisher, who has eight walks and a .478 on-base percentage in his five games from the leadoff spot. "It was my first time seeing Dontrelle. He's a big dude and he has that big funky leg kick. He's very deceiving. So my first at-bat, all I tried to do was make him hit the zone and ended up fortunate and got a couple of walks off him.
"I think [patience] is something I had my whole life. It has helped a lot in this game. "
Swisher and Cabrera drew consecutive walks in the sixth, and Thome's double cut the deficit to 3-1. Paul Konerko's grounder against reliever Zach Miner scored another run and a walk to Jermaine Dye set up Carlos Quentin's RBI single and Joe Crede's sacrifice fly that put the Sox ahead for good.
The beneficiary of the Sox's overall patience was Gavin Floyd, who retired his final seven batters after allowing a two-run home run to Brandon Inge that gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Floyd is 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA against the Tigers dating back to 2007, and he's 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts at Comerica.
The Sox improved to 21-9 at Comerica dating back to the 2005 season.
Swisher made a diving catch in center field for the second out of the ninth, and a diving stop by third baseman Joe Crede with the tying run at first resulted in a game-ending force play at second.
"I always go back to that cheesy cliché, 'Do whatever you have to do to help the team win,' " Swisher said. "Whether it's me going to center, left or first or DH if someone needs a day off. I'm all for that."