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Chicago at Minnesota

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Chi. White Sox «000100010280
Minnesota000100000152

Contreras provides boost for struggling ChiSox vs. Twins

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Pitching is what put the Chicago White Sox in first place, and Jose Contreras is trying his best to keep them there.

Contreras gave the struggling White Sox eight strong innings in a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, helping Chicago maintain a 3½-game lead in the AL Central heading into a critical series with second-place Cleveland.

"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 Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle.

The White Sox scored four runs in this three-game series at the Metrodome and somehow won twice, raising their record in one-run games this year to 32-17. The Twins are 27-29 in one-run decisions.

"We know we have 11 guys on our staff that can go out and make outs," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "They continue to keep us in games, and we continue to score enough runs to find a way to win."

Second baseman Nick Punto misplayed Jermaine Dye's two-out grounder for an error in the eighth against Juan Rincon (6-6), allowing Chicago to take the lead and Contreras (13-7) to win his sixth consecutive start.

Damaso Marte recorded the first two outs in the ninth, and Bobby Jenks finished for his third save. After losing two of three at lowly Kansas City starting the week, the White Sox took home a little confidence into a three-game series with the Indians that begins Monday.

"We're going through a tough time right now," Dye said, "but a win is a win and we'll take it."

Chicago still has the league's best record (90-58) with 14 games remaining despite a 22-23 mark since Aug. 1. The White Sox finish the season with a three-game series at the Indians (87-62), who lead the New York Yankees by 1½ games in the wild-card race.

Paul Konerko and Pierzynski hit consecutive two-out singles in the eighth, and Dye hit a bouncer that Punto tried to backhand unsuccessfully -- allowing pinch-runner Ross Gload to score from second.

That's all Contreras needed. He gave up one run and five hits with two walks and improved to 9-2 since the All-Star break.

"I don't feel like I'm the best, but every time I go out there I'm going to do my best," the Cuban-born right-hander said through an interpreter.

The Twins helped him out with bad base running. Punto led off with a triple in the third and couldn't score. Hesitating when Jason Bartlett grounded to second, he broke too late for the plate and was easily thrown out by Konerko from first base.

Minnesota then camp up with three consecutive singles in the fourth, the last by Jacque Jones to drive in Jason Tyner. Lew Ford bunted, hopped over the ball in front of the plate and then stopped -- believing it was foul. Pierzynski picked it up to start an easy 2-5-4 double play, and Ford was benched an inning later.

"You don't run that ball out, you have to come out of the ballgame," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Minnesota, nearing elimination from postseason contention and an end to its streak of three consecutive division titles, plays a four-game series at Chicago next weekend.

Small consolation for a team that's still struggling mightily to generate any offense, but the chance to knock their biggest rival out of the lead gives the Twins some incentive.

"We're still out there battling and putting pressure on them," said Kyle Lohse, whose start lasted only five innings because of a sore ring finger. He threw 92 pitches, allowing one run on Aaron Rowand's two-out RBI single in the fourth after Konerko walked and Pierzynski was hit by a pitch.

Lohse has allowed two runs in 12 innings since the conflict that developed between him and Gardenhire following his removal from a rough outing against Texas on Sept. 6. Upset he was taken out so early from that game and by a subsequent comment from the manager, Lohse damaged the door to Gardenhire's office with a bat and hurt the finger during that tirade in the clubhouse.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me," Lohse said. "I definitely felt a little uncomfortable."

Notes

Pierzynski, a regular in Minnesota's lineup for three seasons through 2003, forgot for a moment which team he plays for after getting hit in the third. He flipped his bat toward the home dugout before realizing his mistake and advancing to first with a slight smirk. "Something that would only happen to me," Pierzynski said.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Minnesota

K. Lohse
IP 5.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 1
K 2
Chicago

J. Contreras
IP 8.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 2
K 2
 
Chicago White Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF4020010 .291
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B4010001 .279
Carl Everett, DH4010011 .251
Paul Konerko, 1B3110113 .272
    Ross Gload, PR-1B0100000 .161
A.J. Pierzynski, C3010000 .260
Jermaine Dye, RF4010002 .272
Aaron Rowand, CF4011001 .277
Geoff Blum, 3B4000003 .227
    Joe Crede, 3B0000000 .245
Juan Uribe, SS4000020 .258
Totals342811511 
Batting
RBI - Aaron Rowand (64)
2-OUT RBI - Aaron Rowand (27)
CS - Scott Podsednik (23, 2nd base by Lohse/Mauer)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Iguchi-Konerko-Pierzynski, Pierzynski-Blum-Iguchi
Chicago White Sox
Jose Contreras (W,13-7) 8511220 3.79
Damaso Marte (H,19) 0.2000000 3.32
Bobby Jenks (S,3) 0.1000010 1.93
Pitches-Strikes - Jose Contreras 93-60, Damaso Marte 6-4, Bobby Jenks 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jose Contreras 13-7, Damaso Marte 2-0
Batters Faced - Jose Contreras 29, Damaso Marte 2, Bobby Jenks 1
Minnesota Twins
Shannon Stewart, LF4000000 .277
Jason Tyner, RF-CF4110000 .333
Joe Mauer, C3020100 .303
Jacque Jones, DH4011012 .252
Lew Ford, CF2000001 .262
    Michael Ryan, RF1000000 .236
   a- Matthew LeCroy, PH1000010 .261
Justin Morneau, 1B2000101 .239
Michael Cuddyer, 3B3000001 .251
Nick Punto, 2B3010011 .242
Jason Bartlett, SS3000000 .254
Totals30151236 
a-struck out for Ryan in the 9th
Batting
3B - Nick Punto (4, Contreras)
RBI - Jacque Jones (66)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Lew Ford (3, Misplayed grounder), Nick Punto (9, )
Minnesota Twins
Kyle Lohse 5611120 4.16
Jesse Crain 2000010 2.32
Juan Rincon (L,6-6) 1210010 2.64
Matt Guerrier 1000010 3.64
HBP - Pierzynski (by Kyle Lohse)
Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Lohse 92-54, Jesse Crain 19-16, Juan Rincon 21-17, Matt Guerrier 6-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Lohse 2-10, Jesse Crain 4-1, Juan Rincon 1-1, Matt Guerrier 1-1
Batters Faced - Kyle Lohse 22, Jesse Crain 6, Juan Rincon 5, Matt Guerrier 3
Game Information
Attendance - 23559
Game Time - 2:17
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Mike Everitt, First Base - Tim Timmons, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Chuck Meriwether