Minnesota (78-74) at Chicago (91-61)

Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 23, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

If it wasn’t for Jose Contreras, the Chicago White Sox might already be out of first place in the AL Central.

As it is, they’ll need the right-hander to continue his stellar pitching down the stretch if they hope to hold off the surging Cleveland Indians.

Contreras looks to win his seventh straight start when the stumbling division leaders continue a four-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins.

While the White Sox have watched a 15-game advantage in the division shrink to just 1 1/2 with 10 to play, including a three-game set at second-place Cleveland to close the regular season, Contreras has emerged as the staff ace during the stretch run.

He has won six straight starts, seven of his last eight decisions and is a team-best 9-2 since the All-Star break.

“This kid, the last two weeks, every time we need it he goes out and does a tremendous job,” manager Ozzie Guillen said, later declaring Contreras his best current starter in a rotation that includes All-Stars Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle.

Contreras beat the Twins 2-1 on Saturday, allowing five hits over eight brilliant innings while striking out two and walking two.

“I don’t feel like I’m the best, but every time I go out there I’m going to do my best,” Contreras said through an interpreter.

Conteras’ 13 wins equal his career-high total, established last year while splitting time with the New York Yankees and White Sox.

Chicago dropped the series opener 4-1 as Matthew LeCroy hit a go-ahead RBI single in a three-run 11th inning. The White Sox have lost 10 of 14, and have squandered 13 1/2 games on their division lead since Aug. 1.

Joe Crede’s homer off Johan Santana was the only offense for Chicago, which could see its season come down to three games against the Indians at Jacobs Field to end the regular season.

The Twins, reduced to playing spoiler after winning three straight Central titles, have won two straight after losing five of six.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse Mil vs. J. Contreras Tex
9-13 Record 15-7
4.18 ERA 3.61
86 K 154
44 BB 75
1.43 WHIP 1.23