The White Sox absorbed their toughest blows Saturday night but made history.
They pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in 10 innings to improve their record to 14-4their best 18-game start in franchise history.
They extended their winning streak to six games and expanded their lead in the American League Central to 31/2 games over three-time division champion Minnesota.
"It's April and we've got a long way to go," said Aaron Rowand, who came off the bench to hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th to score A.J. Pierzynski.
"We're focused on one game at a time, one pitcher at a time. It's the only way you can take it. If you look at history, and look behind as opposed to ahead of you, it can come up and bite you."
The Sox's health is their immediate concern. Starting pitcher Jose Contreras left the game in the bottom of the fourth after straining his lower right hamstring while trying to cover first base.
Contreras said he will be able to make his start Friday against Detroit, but manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't so sure.
Pierzynski scored the winning run despite playing most of the game with a sore leg after getting hit by a pitch in the second inning.
Reliever Damaso Marte stayed in the game after getting clipped by Matt Diaz on a play at home plate in the ninth that prevented the winning run from scoring.
And Guillen chose not to use reliever Dustin Hermanson because of back tightness.
A lack of clutch hitting caught up with the Sox in the eighth when Mike Sweeney hit a broken-bat, two-out single off Luis Vizcaino to tie the game at 2-2.
The Sox had runners at second with no outs in the first two innings but failed to pad their 2-0 lead. They were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings and are hitting .210 in that situation this season.
But their biggest concern is Contreras, who was off to his most dominant start before getting hurt.
After allowing a leadoff homer to David DeJesus and a walk to Ruben Gotay, Contreras retired the next 10 batterssix on strikeouts.
But he pulled up after taking a few steps toward first on a grounder. He stayed in the game, and the Royals' Matt Stairs tried to test Contreras' leg by attempting a drag bunt.
Stairs had only five career sacrifice bunts and none since leaving the Cubs after the 2001 season.
On the pitch after the bunt attempt, Contreras drilled Stairs on the right side. Then Guillen pulled Contreras.
"No, he wanted to come inside and he hit him a little bit," said Sox third-base coach Joey Cora, interpreting for Contreras and dismissing any notion that the pitch was intentional.
However, some Sox players remembered that Stairs took off for second in the seventh inning of Friday's game with the Royals trailing 7-1 and no one holding him on first. Stairs scored, costing Sox starter Freddy Garcia an earned run.
Stairs, however, said he was merely trying to spark an offense that has scored two runs or fewer in eight of their 10 home games.
"Hey, we're struggling," Stairs told the Kansas City Star. "[Contreras] can be one of the top pitchers in the league, and we're trying to win a game. It's a 2-1 [game] and he blew me away in my first at-bat."
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