DETROIT—In the span of 5 2/3 innings Tuesday night, both the promise and the puzzlement of Jose Contreras were on full display.
After two pitches, he was behind after giving up a leadoff home run to Omar Infante. After five pitches, he had given up another home run to Bobby Higginson.
The two home runs, along with four walks, his major-league-leading 16th wild pitch and 97 pitches are the things that have the White Soxas the Yankees before themscratching their heads.
But then there is the promise and the talent that will pay Contreras $15 million for the next two seasons$12 million of which the Sox will pick up.
That promise is following the back-to-back home runs with two strikeoutsthe first of seven on the nightand pitching out of jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Contreras left Tuesday's game with the lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it when Eric Munson's three-run homer off Neal Cotts in the seventh helped the Tigers to a 6-4 victory. The Sox are 7-11 against Detroit this season, 2-7 at Comerica Park.
"In the first inning I didn't have command of my pitches," Contreras said. "After that, I felt good."
Munson's three-run homer off Cotts in the seventh was the difference and kept Contreras winless in his last six outings.
After falling behind in the first, the Sox tied the game on Joe Crede's homer and Juan Uribe's RBI single.
Contreras' wildness gave the Tigers the lead in the fifth when he gave up a double, infield single and a wild pitch on another walk.
Paul Konerko's two-run homerhis 41st of the seasongave the Sox a 4-3 lead the bullpen couldn't hold.
"Jose threw the ball real well," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was the best for him in the last three or four outings."
After going 3-0 in his first four starts since being acquired for Esteban Loaiza on July 31, Contreras is 1-4 with a 9.44 ERA in his last eight starts.
After experiencing many of the same problems in Chicago that he suffered in New Yorkhe's averaging 5.3 walks per nine innings since Aug. 1some may wonder whether Contreras was rated too highly while dominating Cuban hitters.
"I think when you get $30-something million to sign and make all that kind of money, there is a lot of expectation," Guillen said.
Guillen said he's not disappointed in Contreras and, like everyone else, sees the potential the veteran right-hander flashes.
"I think this kid has a great arm, great command, he's a strong man," Guillen said. "He just has to throw strikes."
It's a statement made about a lot of pitchers who never quite fulfill their promise. The Sox hope it's a not a statement that soon will be made definitively about Contreras.
Guillen has been credited with recruiting Freddy Garcia and being a manager for whom players want to play. The Sox hope that will lure some free agents to Chicago this off-season. "It's nice when a player from another team wants to play for you," Guillen said. "That's good for any manager."
Ross Gload extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a pair of doubles. "He does his job every time," Guillen said. "Ross Gload did more than what I thought he would do or I expected he would do." The Tigers won the season series from the Sox for the first time since 1997.
Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez is considered day-to-day after leaving the game with a tight right hamstring in the third inning.