CHICAGO (AP) -- Jose Contreras was in a jam.
A bases-loaded walk with two outs in the sixth inning had cut
his lead to three, and Contreras was behind 3-0 to Matt Lawton.
Four strikes later, Contreras got Lawton to fly out to shallow
left and he was out of trouble again. Adversity used to be routine
for Contreras, now it's downright rare.
"Jose is on a roll right now," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen
said. "I got kind of worried when he started walking people. I was
like, 'Oh no, not 2004.' But he came back and did a tremendous job.
He challenged people with his fastball. When Jose throws strikes,
he is what he is."
What he is is the American League's first five-game winner. He
has a 1.41 ERA.
Contreras (5-0) said he was fighting a cold and didn't feel
ready when he warmed up before the game.
"If I pitch like that every time, I hope to be sick in every
start," he said through a translator.
Contreras pitched effectively into the eighth and improved to
16-2 since the All-Star break last year. The first-place White Sox
swept the two-game series and won their 10th consecutive home game,
tying a franchise record. They have won 19 of 23 overall, becoming
the first team in the majors to reach 20 wins.
"Thome hit a three-run homer and Contreras on the mound, you
like your chances," Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
Seattle has lost three straight.
Contreras got his 40th career win, giving up one run, four hits
and three walks in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out four. The only run
he allowed came in the sixth when he walked three, including Adrian
Beltre with the bases loaded.
Contreras gave up back-to-back hits to start the second before
settling down nicely, retiring 14 in a row before running into
trouble in the sixth. After retiring the first two batters on weak
comebackers, he walked Raul Ibanez on a 3-2 splitter, gave up a
single to Carl Everett and then walked Roberto Petagine and Beltre
to score Ibanez. The Cuban right-hander then used his fastball to
get the out he needed to escape.
"It builds up my confidence," Contreras said. "If it would've
been in the first half last year or the previous years, I probably
would have been pulled out after the second guy I walked, with such
a close game. I never doubted [Guillen] would be keep me in there.
I think he's confident in all of us to get out of our jams."
Felix Hernandez walked Scott Podsednik leading off the bottom of
the first and gave up a single to Tadahito Iguchi. Thome hit a 2-1
fastball into the bullpen in right field for his 11th home run.
Thome is the fastest White Sox player to reach 11 homers, doing it
in 28 games. Frank Thomas did it in 31 games in 1994.
"It's nice to do that, but the main thing is to win the game,"
Thome said. "We've been on a little bit of a roll here."
Thome came through again in the third. He doubled with two outs
and scored on Paul Konerko's single.
"Jimmy's a good hitter," said Seattle manager Mike Hargrove,
who managed Thome in Cleveland. "He comes by his numbers
The Mariners employed a major shift to the right against the
left-handed hitting Thome and he promptly dumped a hit right past
an empty third base for a standup double. Konerko scored him by
hitting a 3-0 fastball to the gap in left-center.
"We cannot lean on Thome every day," Guillen said. "But this
kid's coming up every day and doing his job and it's a good thing
for us. When this guy swings the bat well, we get a little pumped
Hernandez (1-4) gave up four runs, seven hits and two walks in
six innings. He struck out seven.
"I thought he overthrew a lot of things," Hargrove said. "He
rushed his pitches and overthrew a lot. Then he settled down and he
was good. He's getting closer."
Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-9 in the series, dropping his average
to .262. He grounded out to second six times in that span,
including three times Thursday. He also grounded out to Contreras.
"Finally we get this kid out," Guillen said. "I think we
pitched well against him and we positioned our players the right
Hargrove said he will go with a closer-by-committee after
Eddie Guardado blew his third save Wednesday night. Guardado is 0-2
with four saves and an 8.38 ERA. George Sherrill, J.J. Putz and
Rafael Soriano should all get save opportunities. ... Mariners 1B
Richie Sexson sat out with an injured foot. ... White Sox
outfielder Pablo Ozuna did not start despite being Wednesday's star
by hitting a tying homer in the ninth and scoring the winning run
in the 11th. ... The White Sox last won 10 in a row at home from
May 21 to June 10, 1996. They are 11-3 at U.S. Cellular Field.