CLEVELAND—Manager Ozzie Guillen reached deep to find some optimism after the White Sox concluded a 2-5 trip Thursday night with a humbling 12-8 loss to the Indians.
"We're just lucky," Guillen said after the Sox lost only one game in the American League Central standings during their odyssey. "The way we played and still hanging in there. This could have been pretty ugly, the way Detroit was playing.
"I think this trip wasn't good at all. We're not playing well. Hopefully when we get home, things turn around. I expect better pitching and to play the game better."
After watching the pitching staff get pounded for 12 runs on 14 hits, the Sox (33-20) will rely on Jon Garland to snap their three-game losing streak Friday night against American League West leader Texas.
"We've been playing so well this year that we hit a stretch and we'll probably hit another stretch where we don't play as well as we want to," said right fielder Jermaine Dye, whose two home runs were wasted in the loss. "And this is the way it is, a tough trip."
Garland has won his past two decisions but has allowed 16 home runs in 10 starts.
But a more puzzling issue is Jose Contreras' struggles. Contreras never found his rhythm as he surrendered six runs, eight hits and four walksall season highs. Without getting an out in the sixth, he was pulled after two wild pitches to Aaron Boone.
"Any time you throw  pitches in the first inning, it puts you in a hole for the whole game," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who played the entire game with a badly bruised right thumb after a Travis Hafner foul tip nailed him in the first inning.
"We just couldn't recover. We battled and got the lead again and had a chance. It happens. It's a shame. We lost three games, and they pretty much kicked our tails.
"It's not good. It's not the way we want to play and come away from here."
The pitching staff collectively suffered one of its worst nights. Although Contreras' velocity returned to the mid-90 m.p.h. range, he lacked the dominance that has mirrored his 13-game winning streak.
Three of the four batters Contreras walked eventually scored.
"The first two innings were horrible," Contreras said of allowing four hits and two walks during that span. "From the third to the fifth I picked up the pace a little more. But in the sixth, I lost it."
Contreras has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 191/3 innings after allowing seven earned runs over his six previous starts (442/3 innings).
This was Contreras' shortest outing since July 1, 2005 at Oakland, when he lasted 41/3 innings after walking seven.
The Sox bullpen hadn't allowed a run in its previous 92/3 innings before collapsing. Left-hander Matt Thornton (0-1) allowed a game-tying sacrifice fly to Grady Sizemore and Jason Michaels followed with a two-run homer.
In the seventh, Thornton started to blow a one-run lead by walking leadoff batter Victor Martinez and giving up a single to Ben Broussard. Brandon McCarthy relieved him and retired the first batter he faced. But then he allowed three straight hits, starting with Ronnie Belliard's three-run homer that put the Indians ahead 10-8.
Despite the team's eight runs, the bottom five hitters in the Sox order were a combined 1-for-18.
The offense has batted .174 with runners in scoring position during the three-game losing streak.