Phillips' altered throw sailed over first base for a decisive
ninth-inning error Saturday night, helping the Chicago White Sox
rally for an 8-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that preserved
Jose Contreras' unbeaten streak.
Contreras struck out a career-high 13 batters, but was looking
at the end of his 15-game regular-season winning streak when he
left trailing 5-3 in the sixth. He slammed his fist on a water
bottle on the bench, angry that he'd let one slip away.
"That was the game for me," Contreras said through an
interpreter. "I guess the team didn't want me to lose."
One of the AL's top offenses kept his remarkable run going.
Pierzynski drove in a run with a groundout in the seventh off
reliever David Weathers, and Juan Uribe homered off Chris Hammond
in the eighth to tie it at 5 and leave Contreras with a
no-decision. He hasn't lost since Aug. 15, the longest such run
since Minnesota's Johan Santana won 17 in a row in 2004-05.
"Contreras is a lucky man," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Of course, Contreras also went 3-1 during the playoffs last
season, helping the White Sox win their first World Series title
With the streak preserved, it was up to the two bullpens to
decide the game. Chicago's has been much better, and it showed why.
Todd Coffey (3-1) allowed the White Sox to load the bases with
one out in the ninth. Joe Crede, who hit a grand slam in the series
opener, then grounded to shortstop Felipe Lopez, who tried for a
rally-ending double play.
Phillips took the toss at second for the forceout, then jumped
and altered his throw to first base to avoid hitting Pierzynski,
who made a late slide. He should have thrown it low to make
Pierzynski get out of the way.
"I'll make that play next time," said Phillips, who blamed
himself. "I'm going to throw it right to first base, even if he's
in the way, even if I can't see it. That will not happen again."
Pierzynski was trying to rush Phillips, not distract him.
"I was just trying to get there, put pressure on him," the
catcher said. "It was a tough double play to turn. I got his legs,
but he kind of went over me. I think he felt me. He threw it
Ross Gload scored on the fielder's choice and Jermaine Dye came
around on the error. Uribe followed with a run-scoring single that
made it 8-5 and put the White Sox in position to move a season-high
18 games over .500 at 43-25.
Matt Thornton (2-1) retired the only batter he faced in the
eighth. Bobby Jenks had a few frightening moments in the ninth,
allowing a run on Lopez's groundout before fanning Ken Griffey Jr.
with runners on second and third to end it.
"If I'm going to make it dramatic, it might as well be against
one of the game's best hitters," said Jenks, who has converted 11
straight save chances and is 20-of-21 overall.
The loss kept the Reds in their up-and-down mode. They were five
games out in the NL Central when they put together an eight-game
winning streak at the start of June that vaulted them into first
place. Now, they've lost seven of eight, dropping 4 1/2 behind St.
For eight games, plays like the one Phillips' tried to make in
the ninth went their way. In the last eight games, they've gone
"I know," Coffey said. "That's baseball, isn't it? It just
On this night, Contreras was the fortunate one.
Contreras' 13 strikeouts were the most by a White Sox pitcher
since Alex Fernandez fanned the same number of Red Sox on June 12,
1996, in Chicago. But while he was in the game, it looked like the
Reds could pull off that streak-busting win. Austin Kearns drove in
three runs with a pair of singles, and some sensational defense
kept the White Sox from having a big inning.
White Sox RHP Cliff Politte threw in the bullpen on
Saturday. Politte, on the DL since June 7 with a sore shoulder, is
expected to make a minor league rehab stint. ... Pablo Ozuna had
three hits for Chicago and extended his hitting streak to seven
games. ... The Reds put LHP Brandon Claussen on the 15-day DL with
a sore shoulder. RHP Joe Mays is expected to take Claussen's spot
in the rotation. Cincinnati plans to call up reliever Mike Burns on
Sunday. ... Reds starter Eric Milton gave up seven hits and three
runs in six innings. ... Reds INF Rich Aurilia left the game after
straining his right arm while diving back to base on a pickoff
attempt in the fourth.