White Sox 12, Royals 4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Jose Contreras is glad to be with a team that wants him.
“I’m happy everything went so well in my first game,” Contreras said Tuesday night after he won his debut for the Chicago White Sox, a 12-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals. “I’m happy to be in Chicago. My teammates put up some runs for me and made it easier.”
“I accepted the trade because I knew they wanted me out of New York,” he said through a translator. “If I’m at your house and you don’t want me there, I’m going to leave. I had to leave because they didn’t want me there.”
Contreras (9-5) was given a 7-0 lead by the fifth inning and left after the sixth, when Chicago extended its lead to 10-4 lead on Aaron Rowand’s three-run homer. He gave up four runs—two earned—and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one.
“Even though there was an expectation to win every time with New York, I didn’t care,” Contreras said. “I was a little bit shy when I got here, but my teammates treated me great. I was a lot looser, and I was able to go out there and pitch.”
Signed by the Yankees to a $32 million, four-year contract in December 2002, Contreras was inconsistent in New York, where he compiled a 15-7 record in 1 1/2 seasons. In his White Sox debut, he threw 57 of 93 pitches for strikes.
“He threw the ball real well,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s got so many pitches. I thought he did a tremendous job.”
Angel Berroa’s leadoff single in the third was the only runner Contreras allowed in the first four innings. He gave up four runs on four hits in the fifth.
“All my pitches were fine from the beginning of the game,” he said. “Everything was working. I left the ball high. At this level of baseball, when you leave the ball high, it’s going to get hit.”
Paul Konerko hit a grand slam that tied him for the AL home run lead.
“That grand slam changed the game around,” Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. “They have so much power, when you walk guys, you’re going to pay.”
The slam was the sixth of Konerko’s career.
“With two outs, I’m just looking for a base hit. It’s just icing on the cake to hit it out,” Konerko said. “He’s a sinkerballer. He threw me one inside that didn’t really sink.”
Chicago scored twice in the third and added five runs in the fifth, sparked by Konerko’s 28th homer, which tied Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. But Contreras allowed four runs in the bottom half, when Ken Harvey led off with a home run.
Kansas City first baseman Mike Sweeney left in the fifth inning because of back spasms. Sweeney missed six games last month with stiffness in his back. He was on the disabled list for 45 games with back problems last year, when he played in only 108 games, the fewest since he became a regular in 1999.
“The last week, it’s been tight in my lower back a little bit off and on,” Sweeney said. “I was just trying to battle through it. I came into the game tonight and I felt great. In the second or third inning, I was getting ready for a pitch and it just locked up. Dr. (Steve) Joyce said it’s just muscle spasms. Hopefully it’s just a day-to-day thing and I’ll be back real soon.”
Chicago reached double digits in runs for the 18th time this season, the most in the major leagues. Kansas City has lost nine of 11 games.
Mike Wood (1-4) gave up seven runs and six hits in five innings for the Royals, who have lost five straight to the White Sox. Chicago has won eight of its last 10 in Kansas City.
Joe Crede’s 14th homer and Timo Perez’s RBI double put Chicago ahead in the third—the White Sox have homered in 34 of their last 35 games. Willie Harris’ RBI triple and Konerko’s slam made it 7-0 in the fifth.
After Harvey’s homer and a two-base error by Crede at third base in the bottom half, Ruben Gotay hit a run-scoring single, the first hit and RBI for the 21-year-old, who made his major league debut Tuesday.
Rowand homered off reliever Dennys Reyes, a 435-foot drive that landed halfway up the hill beyond the center-field fence.
Harris, 3-for-3 with two RBIs, walked with the bases loaded in the eighth against Ryan Bukvich.
The White Sox have 93 solo homers. … Gotay became the eighth Royal to make his major league debut this year. … Konerko’s slam was Chicago’s first since Jose Valentin’s last Sept. 26, also at Kansas City.