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Contreras dominant again, Sox obliterate Orioles
Even with the luxury of a large lead Tuesday, Jose Contreras and his White Sox teammates were in no mood to experiment or relax.
Contreras steered himself on the right path with 62/3 scoreless innings, and the Sox's offense never let up en route to a 13-0 humbling of Baltimore that erased the lethargy of Monday's loss.
"We have a tough schedule ahead of us," said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose Sox finish the first half with two games against the Orioles and three with American League East leader Boston. "That's why these guys have to dig in and play all the way to the end. Just don't say because you have a few days off you can relax. We're still in the pennant race behind Detroit, and they know it. We have to come out and win and not worry about the rest of the league."
The Sox provided encouragement as they cut their deficit in the AL Central to 1½ games behind Detroit.
Contreras was more satisfied with regaining his pinpoint control than winning his 17th straight decision, tying him with Minnesota's Johan Santana (2004-05) for the second-longest streak since 1986 (behind Roger Clemens' 20-game streak from 1998 to 1999).
Contreras reverted to using overhand and sidearm deliveries after toying with a three-quarter angle that made him less dominant against batters.
"All my pitches were on," Contreras said.
Contreras scattered six hits after allowing a career-high 12 in his last start at Pittsburgh. He didn't let up. He broke the bat of All-Star Miguel Tejada on a popup to second in the sixth.
"That was the old Jose Contreras, before his past few outings," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said, referring to his 5.31 ERA after coming off the DL on May 21. "He's back to dropping down and doing it with authority and not being caught in between."
And for the seventh time in his 23 starts during the streak, Contreras didn't walk a batter.
"Night and day," first baseman Paul Konerko said of Contreras' control transformation. "Everyone always saw it. When it wasn't clicking, no one knew why. But now you know what day he's pitching. You're hoping he gets the getaway day. [Mark] Buehrle has some competition.
"Some people hope for Contreras, and that would have been the opposite two years ago."
Contreras and relievers Neal Cotts and David Riske combined to throw the Sox's sixth shutout.
Contreras (9-0) will make his final start of the first half on Sunday against Boston's Curt Schilling. But Guillen reiterated he doesn't want to start Contreras in the All-Star Game and will make some phone calls. There's a possibility Detroit's Kenny Rogers could start.
But the Sox aren't looking that far ahead.
They scored three runs in the second inning on Juan Uribe's home run and seven in the third.
The Sox went 8-for-20 with runners in scoring position and lead the majors in that category with a .316 batting average, including a .378 mark over their last 24 games.
Every Sox starting position player had at least one hit. Ross Gload, who took over for Konerko in the seventh, doubled and scored on Uribe's single.
Uribe has three homers in his last five games and 16 RBIs in his last seven.
"If Juan doesn't get any hits, I don't care," Konerko said. "He's the shortstop, and he's playing great."
The Sox's 18-hit production came without the services of second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who rested his sprained left ankle.
In addition, the Sox said utility player Pablo Ozuna's left hamstring pull won't require him to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.