Chicago (65-43) at Toronto (57-53)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 23° F
  • Game info: 1:07 pm EDT Sun Aug 6, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

When the Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett during the winter, he was expected to produce consistent wins as a complement to former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.

Instead, the oft-injured right-hander will try to help the Blue Jays avoid their eighth straight loss when they meet the Chicago White Sox in the finale of a weekend series on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

Toronto has not lost eight or more in a row since a nine-game losing streak from April 24-May 3, 2002.

“It will turn around,” Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus said. “We play 162 games and every team has its ups and downs.”

Injuries and inconsistency during his first season with the Blue Jays (57-53) have plagued Burnett (2-5, 4.84 ERA), who tries to avoid losing his third consecutive start.

Burnett, who was signed to a five-year, $55 million deal last offseason, has been on the disabled list twice with soreness in his surgically repaired right elbow. He faced Chicago in his Blue Jays debut on April 15 and took the loss after giving up four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 4-2 defeat.

Burnett also has lasted just four innings in each of his last two starts, allowing 10 runs and 14 hits in losses to Seattle and the New York Yankees.

“He’s really pitched pretty good for us, better than his record indicates,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “But he’s like anyone else, he’s got to throw strikes.”

Chicago’s Jose Contreras (10-3, 3.54) will try to stay unbeaten in his career against Toronto. In eight appearances, including three starts, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

He didn’t get a decision in a 3-2, 11-inning loss on May 27 but pitched well, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings.

After losing three consecutive starts for the first time since September 2004, Contreras returned to the win column against Kansas City on Monday. He gave up four runs and nine hits over seven innings of an 8-4 victory.

“Jose was struggling early and got in trouble, then he settled down.” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It was important for us that he give us innings.”

Contreras is 8-3 with a 3.29 ERA and .234 opponent batting average in 13 career August starts.

He will follow one Chicago’s most impressive pitching performances this season. Javier Vazquez struck out a season-high 13 and pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since May 18 in a 7-1 win Saturday.

Paul Konerko had two hits and drove in four while Tadahito Iguchi scored three times for Chicago (65-43), but Joe Crede left after three innings with a back injury.

Guillen said Crede, who is batting .299 with 23 homers and 73 RBIs, won’t play in Sunday’s game and is day-to-day.

“I took him out when I saw him grab his back,” Guillen said. “I’ll make sure he’s ready to play when we get home. It’s nothing big. It’s not a big deal. I just don’t want to take a chance with him.”

The White Sox are 6-2 on a nine-game road trip. They begin an 11-game homestand Monday with a makeup game versus the Los Angeles Angels.

Glaus helped Toronto avoid a shutout on Saturday with his third homer of the series, 31st of the season and 250th of his career. Glaus has hit at least 30 homers in five of the last eight seasons.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Contreras Tex vs. A. Burnett Pit
13-9 Record 10-8
4.27 ERA 3.98
134 K 118
55 BB 39
1.27 WHIP 1.30


Sunday, Aug 6