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Red Sox pound Contreras, White Sox
Jose Contreras' statistics suffered a big hit Friday night, in part, because he pitched efficiently through seven innings.
With a pitch count at 87, manager Ozzie Guillen left Contreras in to start the eighth inning and kept him in after Contreras loaded the bases.
That was too long because Julio Lugo put the game out of reach with a grand slam that punctuated the White Sox's 10-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The defeat was Contreras' fifth straight, and he's 1-8 with a 7.56 ERA in his last 10 starts. That might not be attractive enough for playoff contending teams interested in acquiring a starting pitcher, but Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper sounded as if they saw a semblance of the once-dominant Contreras.
"I think his velocity was better than the last two outings, and I was pretty pleased with the way he threw," said Guillen, who thought Contreras was his best option to pitch the eighth. "People are going to think I'm crazy because they scored , but if you watched the whole game, everything happened in one inning."
Nevertheless, the 10 runs were the most allowed by Contreras in his career.
This marked the second time a Sox pitcher allowed at least 10 runs this season, and it's the first time two pitchers from the same team allowed 10 or more runs in a game during the same season.
Jon Garland gave up 12 runs, 11 earned, in a 20-14 loss to the Twins on July 6.
Guillen gave Contreras (5-12) a pep talk after the game to reassure his faith in him.
"I understand Jose's situation," Guillen said. "He'd love to be with us. He won with us before. He wants to be part of this. It's just something he was upset about because he thinks he let everyone down once again.
"I told him 'If you pitch like [Friday night], you'll finish up strong.' "
Contreras is scheduled to make one more start before the July 31 trade deadline—Wednesday against Detroit.
"[The trade reports] haven't bothered me at all," Contreras said. "That's something you can't control, so you might as well not worry about it.
"Of course, I'd love to stay in Chicago. I love the fans, I like the team, I love Ozzie."
Guillen reiterated the Sox have no trade talks percolating.
Contreras, meanwhile, had his fastball clocked in the low 90 m.p.h. range more frequently than in his last two starts.
"My forkball was working," Contreras said. "It was just two innings that I gave up a lot of runs, and that's what messed up the game."
Contreras surrendered a bases-clearing triple to Coco Crisp that ignited a four-run fifth and enabled Boston to have a 5-3 lead entering the eighth.
Contreras' stats, however, might have been worse if J.D. Drew's drive that cleared the red line above the 37-foot Green Monster and bounced back into play had been ruled a three-run home run in the first.
Instead, left fielder Rob Mackowiak played the carom and threw to relay man Juan Uribe, whose throw home nailed Manny Ramirez to end the inning with the Red Sox leading 1-0. Boston manager Terry Francona argued for several minutes before third base umpire Tim McClelland ejected him.
That sequence loomed larger in the third when Jim Thome ripped a three-run homer to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
But the Sox were held to four hits by Josh Beckett (13-3) and three relievers.