Jose Contreras looks to extend his team record for consecutive wins and the Chicago White Sox try to hand the Pittsburgh Pirates their 14th straight loss when the clubs complete their three-game series Thursday.
Contreras (8-0, 3.15 ERA) is 16-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last 21 regular-season starts since losing to Minnesota on Aug. 15. He took over sole possession of the record, surpassing LaMarr Hoyt and Wilson Alvarez, by allowing four runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 7-4 win over Houston on Friday.
“It’s a big deal, especially when you pitch for the Chicago White Sox,” Contreras said through an interpreter. “So many pitchers have gone through here. I’m really proud. It’s my record now.
“It’s something for me, personally, but the most important thing is that we won and we’re playing great right now.”
With a victory in his first career appearance against Pittsburgh (26-53), Contreras would tie Minnesota’s Johan Santana for the second-longest winning streak since 1998.
Contreras has struggled somewhat against the NL this season, going 1-0 with a 5.95 ERA in three starts, but he did record a career-high 13 strikeouts in an 8-6 win over Cincinnati on June 17.
Duke tossed a five-hitter May 2 in an 8-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, but hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in 10 starts since. He gave up five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
“I don’t think Zach did that bad of a job,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “He just suffered from the standpoint that we couldn’t get anything going, and once they got the two runs early in the game, he was in the position where he couldn’t allow anything else to happen.”
In Duke’s only game against an AL opponent, the left-hander surrendered a season-high six walks in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Cleveland on May 19. He is 3-0 with a 5.47 ERA in his last four starts at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh was poised to end its longest losing streak since 1939, leading 3-0 after six innings Wednesday. Chicago (51-26), though, rallied as Juan Uribe had a three-run triple and scored on Scott Podsednik’s single in the seventh for a 4-3 win.
Uribe is hitting .361 (17-for-47) with four homers and 14 RBIs in his last 12 games. The White Sox improved to 12-2 in interleague play, including 5-0 in NL parks.
The 14-game slide is the Pirates’ longest in the modern era since 1900. The only longer losing streak in franchise history was a 23-game skid by the Pittsburg Alleghenies in 1890.
After Thursday’s contest, the Pirates will face AL Central leader Detroit for a three-game weekend set before going to New York for four games against the NL East-leading Mets.
“Right now, everybody is feeling the pressure to just get a win, because maybe if we can get a win we can get off the schneid and start something good,” Pirates left fielder Jason Bay said.
The 13-game skid ties a major league-high this season, set by Kansas City from May 12-25.
Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez had three hits Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.