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Contreras in control as usual
Jose Contreras silenced the Los Angeles Angels with a counterpunch on the mound Saturday night, and manager Ozzie Guillen delivered some post-game blows and a warning after the White Sox's 2-1 victory at Angel Stadium.
Contreras extended his winning streak to 12 games dating back to last August by pitching 8 1/3 innings of five-hit ball. Contreras is tied with Jim Kaat for the fourth longest winning streak among Sox pitchers since 1970.
Contreras pitched under the scrutiny of a warning that was given by home plate umpire Paul Nauert to both teams after Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar resurrected ill feelings from the 2005 American League Championship Series by drilling A.J. Pierzynski in the second inning.
Pierzynski was in the middle of two controversial plays in October, both with Escobar on the mound. After Escobar struck him out in the ninth inning of Game 2, he ran out a contested dropped third strike that led to a Sox victory, and Escobar's frustration mounted in the eighth inning of Game 5 when he tagged Pierzynski without the ball in his glove that set up the Sox's winning rally.
After Saturday's win, Guillen directed his anger at Escobar, a fellow Venezuelan, for nailing Pierzynski, and at Nauert for warning the Sox's bench first before issuing the same threat to the Angels.
"If Escobar is going to hit somebody, he should hit himself," Guillen said during a 3½-minute post-game tirade. "A.J. has nothing to do with the dumb-[expletive] play they madeit was [catcher] Josh Paul and [Escobar]. And all of a sudden, you're blaming A.J.? You have to be dumb enough to blame somebody when you screw up. That's my point.
"If you're going to blame somebody, look in the mirror and watch the video. A.J. has nothing to do with that. First, the ball bounced and A.J. didn't kick Josh Paul to get the ball out of his hands. I think that's a low-[class] way to play baseball."
Guillen and Pierzynski absolved Angels manager Mike Scioscia of any involvement.
But Guillen remained angry.
"What [Escobar] did was chicken [expletive]," Guillen said. "I think he should blame himself and Josh Paul and no one else. And we did what we're supposed to dowin the game.
"We're not going to get caught up in playing beanball. If I play, that's fine. I'll hit 20 guys. But I don't play. I don't get hurt. My players get hurt. I don't want anyone to get hurt.
"If they think because I don't hit somebody that I chicken out and don't have the guts to do it, watch out."
Pierzynski also was baffled by Escobar's drilling.
"Why is he throwing at me?" Pierzynski said. "I didn't do anything to show him up. I don't even know the guy."
Escobar, who had Pierzynski's baseball card hanging in his locker stall during spring training, claimed innocence.
"That's one guy on the team I don't want to hit, because of all the controversy," said Escobar, who left after five innings because of a blister on his right middle finger. "I know they think I did it on purpose. I didn't. I knew they were saying things from the dugout. They can say whatever they want."
Scioscia was angry at Nauert for the warning based on last year's incidents.
"[Nauert] told me it was well documented," Scioscia said. "I don't know where it's documented. The misinformation by umpires is disturbing, very disturbing. We'll have to see who the source of this misinformation is.
"The information they had was not correct. There's no problem at all with Pierzynski. There's no problem at all with their guys. We're not about throwing at guys. That's not how we go about our business."
Contreras took care of the Angels in what he described as one of his best games during his winning streak. Contreras credited the development of a change-up that kept the Angels' hitters off-balance. Opponents were 0-for-17 against Contreras this season until Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI double in the sixth.
Guillen pulled Contreras with one out in the ninth after he allowed a single to Vladimir Guerrero. Left-hander Matt Thornton, pitching for the first time since April 13 because Neal Cotts threw 35 pitches Friday, retired Garret Anderson but walked Darin Erstad to move Guerrero into scoring position.
But closer Bobby Jenks retired Edgardo Alfonzo on a soft liner to short to earn his seventh save in as many chances.
The last time the Sox won the first two games of a series in Anaheim was 1994.
Jim Thome provided what proved to be the winning run when he lined his 10th home run over the center field fence in the sixth off reliever Brendan Donnelly. Thome set a franchise record by hitting his 10th homer this month and also became the quickest Sox player to hit 10 homers in a season, doing so in the team's 23rd game.
Thome also snapped an 0-for-8 slump, during which he struck out six times.