Contreras struggles in loss to Orioles
Right-hander walks six, gives up six runs in 5 1/3 innings
BALTIMORE -- The White Sox had trouble collectively figuring out a pitcher making his Major League debut, and their struggles filled Orioles rookie right-hander Brad Bergesen with confidence.
Jose Contreras had trouble getting the ball over the plate, and the veteran righty couldn't figure out Nick Markakis, who continued to feast on one of his favorite targets and was in the thick of Baltimore's offense when it pulled away from Chicago.
The resulting 10-3 loss to the Orioles on a rainy Tuesday night not only snapped the White Sox two-game winning streak, but perpetuated questions about whether Contreras can complete his comeback from a ruptured left Achilles tendon that prematurely ended his 2008 campaign and be an effective member of the Chicago rotation.
"He's got to figure it out," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Contreras' struggles. "It was a pretty bad game -- walking people, didn't get that many lefties out. He walked the leadoff guy [two] different innings, and when you do that against a good-hitting ballclub, you're not going to win that many games."
Contreras (0-3) gave up six runs on seven hits and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. He battled to find the strike zone all night, throwing only 58 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
"I felt fine," said Contreras through translator Omer Munoz. "I started well, but the last two innings, I left the ball up and they took advantage. I was rushing, I was opening up. That's why I was leaving the ball up."
Three of the hits he surrendered came off the bat of Markakis (4-for-4), who is now .500 (8-for-16) lifetime against Contreras. Markakis hit a two-out single to prolong the third, one batter before Aubrey Huff hit the first of his two two-run homers. Then, in the fifth, Markakis touched Contreras for an RBI double to erase a 3-2 Chicago lead before scoring the go-ahead run on Luke Scott's two-out single to right.
Guillen didn't offer a ringing endorsement that Contreras has the leeway to remain in the rotation while he works out his control issues. Instead, he suggested more side work with pitching coach Don Cooper was in order.
"You make a decision right now after a game like this and you might make the wrong one -- or make one too quick. ... Hopefully, next game, he's better," Guillen said.
Likewise, the White Sox bats could use some work, especially after managing only four hits against Bergesen, who only allowed two fly balls to the outfield and seemed to have the visitors at a distinct disadvantage. Bergesen (1-0) worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs -- one earned -- while walking two and striking out four.
"I don't know if it's an advantage or a disadvantage. ... I think it was a disadvantage the first time through the lineup," Chicago center fielder Brian Anderson said. "That guy made good pitches. He did a good job and he threw strikes. It's a good debut for him, but we have to do a better job of getting on base."
The Sox didn't get a hit until the fourth, when a walk and an error set the stage for RBI singles by Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko. In the fifth, A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single and scored on Alexei Ramirez's double down the left-field line.
Aside from those four hits -- strung all in a row, with Dye nabbed at third on Konerko's hit -- Bergesen was in control. He pitched to contact and let his fielders do the work, helping the Orioles snap a five-game losing streak.
Guillen said the problem was that the White Sox had little video of Bergesen available. All they had was some Double-A footage from last year, when he was the Orioles' Minor League pitcher of the year at Double-A Bowie.
"I don't know this kid," Guillen said. "When you throw strikes, no matter what level you come from or what you do, you have a chance to win games. And that's what the kid did. ... He threw strikes, kept the ball down, he had a good sinker."
Huff hit a second two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Jack Egbert, who was also making his Major League debut.
Carlos Quentin, whose seven homers lead the Majors, was unable to connect for the first time in four games.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.