Contreras seeks to win his fourth consecutive decision Wednesday night when his White Sox continue their four-game road series against the Kansas City Royals.
Contreras (9-16, 5.81 ERA) pitched dreadfully throughout much of the summer, going 1-9 with an 8.08 ERA in 11 appearances from June 24-Aug. 22. The final outing in that stretch was a 7-6 loss at home to Kansas City in which he allowed four runs in six innings.
The right-hander has turned his fortunes around since that outing, going 3-0 with a 3.81 ERA over his last four starts. He defeated the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels on Friday, when he gave up three runs while scattering 11 hits over 7 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory.
Chicago (65-86) has also played better recently, going 8-7 since Sept. 2, but is far out of playoff contention just two years after winning the World Series.
“It’s frustrating because when the team needed me the most, when we were in the fight, that’s when I was going through my toughest moment,” Contreras said through an interpreter. “I’m glad I’m pitching well now, but we’re out of the fight. … One of the reasons we’re not competing for the playoffs is the fact that I did not do my job during that run.”
While Contreras will look to keep his winning streak alive, he’ll also try to stop his losing streak against the Royals (65-85). After going 7-0 with a 2.16 ERA in nine career starts versus Kansas City through July 31, 2006, he has lost all four of his outings since while compiling a 7.13 ERA.
He’ll match up against AL rookie of the year candidate Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.39), the only pitcher on Kansas City’s staff in double figures in wins. After a four-start winning streak, though, the Royals have lost the right-hander’s last two outings.
Bannister pitched effectively at Cleveland on Friday, limiting the Indians to one run, two hits and three walks over six innings, but did not record a decision in Kansas City’s 5-4 defeat.
He is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in three starts versus the White Sox this season.
Bannister will try to follow up a stellar outing from Gil Meche, who pitched seven strong innings Tuesday night as the Royals bounced back from a series-opening loss with a 3-2 victory.
Billy Butler’s two-run single capped a three-run first inning for Kansas City, which reclaimed a one-half-game lead over the White Sox for fourth place in the AL Central. Meche helped make the lead stand up long enough for rookie closer Joakim Soria to pitch a perfect ninth inning and earn his 16th save in 20 opportunities.
Soria threw all 10 of his pitches for strikes.
“When we can get to him, we feel pretty good,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
The Royals have won two of their last three games after a 1-9 stretch.
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