Royals, White Sox Preview

By: KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer
By: KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer

Jose Contreras has worked his way back into the Chicago White Sox's rotation, but the right-hander is still looking to return to the win column as a starter.

Contreras hopes to end an eight-start losing streak Wednesday and help the White Sox complete their first series sweep at home in more than a year as they face the Kansas City Royals.

Contreras (6-15, 6.18 ERA) has lost all eight of his starts since beating the Florida Marlins on June 18, but is coming off one of his better outings since the losing streak began. He gave up five runs - four earned - and did not walk a batter in seven innings of a 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday. The four earned runs were the fewest he's allowed in seven starts.

It was Contreras' first start back in the rotation following two relief appearances, during which he went 1-0 while allowing one unearned run in seven innings. He was moved to the bullpen in early August after giving up seven runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings against the New York Yankees on July 31.

"I was working with my legs more, pushing through," Contreras said through a translator on the White Sox's official Web site. "I was ahead of the hitters, which I wanted to do also. I feel good that I'm back in the rotation. I'm going back to my routine every fifth day."

Contreras is 7-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 12 starts against the Royals. He has lost his last three starts against them, however, including his only one this season on June 29, when he allowed six runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss.

Contreras and the White Sox (56-69) are trying for their first sweep at U.S. Cellular Field since a three-game set against Detroit from Aug. 11-13 of last season. Their 28 home wins this season are only one more than the league low.

Chicago came into this series having lost five of seven home games, but won its second straight Tuesday with a 5-2 victory over the Royals.

Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Danny Richar each homered for Chicago. Thome's two-run homer in the third inning was the 493rd of his career, pulling him into a tie with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 23rd on the career list.

"Those are awesome names," Thome said. "As you play as a young guy and you come up through the big leagues and you mention those types of names, it really kind of puts it in perspective."

Thome is 0-for-2 in his career against Brian Bannister (9-7, 3.31), who will start Wednesday for the Royals (55-70).

Banister pitched the first complete game of his career Friday against the Oakland Athletics, allowing four hits in a 9-2 victory.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his last six starts, pitching at least seven innings in five of them. He's looking to become the fifth Royals pitcher since 2000 to win at least 10 games in a season.

Bannister is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the White Sox - both this season and both at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals have lost three straight to fall back into last place in the Central after briefly moving ahead of the White Sox for fourth place.

"We're a little tired," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said Tuesday. "We tried to stay away from doing some things BP-wise and things like that to kind of give the guys a break."


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