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The White Sox appear willing to tolerate Jose Contreras' inconsistencies, which resurfaced Tuesday night in a 7-1 loss to Detroit that snapped their five-game winning streak.
All of the runs scored against Contreras (5-6) came after two outs, magnifying his mercurial pitching that has neutralized bouts of dominance.
Before the Tigers put the game away with five straight two-out hits in the sixth inning, Contreras retired 12 straight batters.
"I loved the way he was throwing the ball before that inning," said manager Ozzie Guillen, noting Contreras didn't walk a batter in 52/3 innings. "All of a sudden, I don't know if he got tired or [had] a lack of concentration."
Contreras, coming off consecutive victories in his past two starts, dismissed his manager's theories. He recorded his first four outs on strikeouts and said he felt as strong as he has in any of his 19 starts this season.
But as for the string of seven runs after two outs, "that's probably one of the most frustrating things," Contreras said.
Guillen said he still has faith in Orlando Hernandez, who allowed four runs in six innings on Monday in his first start since coming off the disabled list, and Contreras.
"Right now, I have to," Guillen said. "I'm not going to change anything with this club."
Contreras' numbers wouldn't have looked so bad if third baseman Joe Crede had fielded a two-out grounder by Craig Monroe in the second that was ruled a hit.
Omar Infante followed with a home run to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead, marking the 12th time in Contreras' last 16 starts that he has allowed a homer.
"Joe has made some great plays," Contreras said. "One play wouldn't have made a difference."
Contreras deflected the scrutiny that has come with the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline approaching.
"I'm going to wake up and work out hard," Contreras said. "I don't care what people think or say."
Larry Monroe, the Sox's chief scout, attended Tuesday night's Atlanta-San Francisco game to evaluate Giants pitcher Jason Schmidt.
"[But] people forget how good [Contreras] pitched in the past, and I think we have to continue to get something better out of him," Guillen said.
The Sox's offense was dormant as Jeremy Bonderman (12-6) snapped the Sox's 11-game winning streak against the American League Central.
Bonderman limited the Sox to three hits over eight innings and kept them off-balance by throwing breaking pitches when he fell behind in the count.
"He dominated the game," Guillen said.
This marked the fifth time the Sox scored one run or fewer since the end of May, including a one-hit shutout by the Cubs' Mark Prior and two relievers on June 26.
Bonderman also became the first Tigers pitcher to win 12 games at this point in a season since Bill Gullickson of Joliet won his 12th game on July 19, 1991.
The Sox's best shot at Bonderman came in the third when Crede hit a bloop single to shallow right field and Juan Uribe drew his 14th walk of the season.
But Bonderman calmly retired the top of the Sox's order in succession to end the threat.
The large deficit allowed Guillen to employ rookie reliever Bobby Jenks, who could play a larger role with closer Dustin Hermanson sidelined with back pain.
Jenks showed a 99 m.p.h. fastball in striking out five in 21/3 innings, but his most impressive moment came when he worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth.
"I think Jenks did a tremendous job, and he showed us he's not afraid," Guillen said. "I left him in there to see how he would react to some situations."