Contreras won his 15th straight decision with a nearly dominant performance Monday night, striking out a career-high 11 without a walk and pitching the Chicago White Sox to an 8-3 victory.
"I felt that this was my best start of the year," Contreras said through a translator. "I had everything working, including the split, slider, changeup ... in and out, up and down, throwing strikes."
Contreras (7-0), who hasn't lost in the regular season since last Aug. 15, threw 75 of his 108 pitches for strikes over eight innings. The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits, with the AL West-leading Rangers scoring all their runs in a four-batter span in the fifth.
He tied the franchise record for consecutive wins set by LaMarr Hoyt (1983-84) and Wilson Alvarez (1993-94). Contreras' streak is also the longest in the majors since Minnesota lefty Johan Santana won 17 decisions in a row from July 2004 to April 2005, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I've never been around a streak like that," Chicago catcher
A.J. Pierzynski said. "It's good to see."
Contreras won his final eight starts last season and has made 11 starts this year.
"It's tough to pick up his pitches with all the arm angles and it breaks at the last second," Rangers shortstop Michael Young
said. "The ball moves all over the place."
Contreras' previous career high of 10 strikeouts came with the New York Yankees, against the Mets on June 27, 2004.
"When he gets pitches for strikes, he's one of the best pitchers in the game," said manager Ozzie Guillen, who will pick the starting AL pitcher for the All-Star Game next month. "He
responded real well."
Texas had only an infield single by Young before its scoring spurt. Contreras retired 10 of his last 12 batters after that.
"In that inning, I left my pitches a little bit high, but I felt very strong the whole way," he said.
While the Rangers struggled against Contreras, Chicago started the game with five straight hits off rookie left-hander John Koronka (4-4) for a quick 3-0 lead.
The White Sox had seven hits their first time through the order. Juan Uribe and Brian Anderson, the last two hitters (both batting under .200), started the second with consecutive hits before
scoring to make it 5-0.
Pierzynski drove in the next two White Sox runs. He grounded out in the fifth as the last batter to face Koronka, and hit his third homer leading off the eighth. Scott Podsednik added an RBI single in the inning.
Contreras retired his first 10 batters, with five strikeouts, before Young's infield single with one out in the fourth.
Joe Crede made a diving, backhanded stop on Young's short-hopper. The third baseman scrambled to his feet and made a strong throw, but Young beat it by a step.
Brad Wilkerson had a one-out bunt single in the fifth. Then the bottom third of the order -- which had struck out consecutively in the third -- produced the runs. Ian Kinsler doubled, Jason Botts hit
a sacrifice fly and Rod Barajas a two-run homer, his fifth of the season.
"The first at-bat, I had no chance. His slider was really biting. He had great stuff," Barajas said. "He'd throw a split in the 70s and then throw something in the 90s. He had us off
Koronka, acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs the weekend
before the regular season started, is 0-3 with a 7.18 ERA in his last six starts. He was 4-0 in his six previous starts.
Things might have been worse for Koronka if not for double plays in each of the first three innings. He gave up six runs and nine hits, with three walks and a hit batsman, over 4 2/3 innings.
Podsednik had a sacrifice fly in the second before an RBI single by Pablo Ozuna, who was doubled off on Thome's liner to shortstop Young.
Konerko was hit by a pitch to start the third, a ball that skimmed the batter but hit plate umpire Chuck Meriwether squarely on his left knee -- the umpire walked it off and continued after being checked on by his fellow umpires and the Rangers' trainer. After Dye struck out, Pierzynski grounded into a double play.
The White Sox won on the road for only the sixth time in 16 games and are 15-14 overall away from Chicago. They had the best road record in the majors last season (52-29) when they were World Series champions. ... Crede's liner up the middle in the fourth was hit so hard it knocked Koronka's glove off his hand. The ball rolled to Young, who threw to first for the out.