Runs few and far between in defeat
Getz, Konerko hit significant homers; tough loss for Contreras
CINCINNATI -- On a night when Chris Getz launched his first career home run and Paul Konerko went deep for the 300th time in a White Sox uniform, the South Siders did not produce enough offense in between to avoid a 4-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Friday.
The White Sox (31-36) came away with just Scott Podsednik's two-out double in the third and Brian Anderson's two-out single in the ninth during their four-hit showing against Bronson Arroyo (8-5) and three relievers. Yet, Ozzie Guillen was not displeased by the overall effort.
Guillen waited to see how his team responded after a four-run lead evaporated in the eighth inning of Thursday's loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Everything looked solid Friday for the White Sox, aside from the offensive drought.
"We [didn't] hit well, but we responded real well after last night's game," said the White Sox manager, who watched his team slip to 5-4 in Interleague Play and 3-3 on this eight-game road trip to National League ballparks. "We forgot what happened."
Jose Contreras (2-6) continued to respond well in coming back from a five-game Minor League stint with Triple-A Charlotte, on the heels of an 0-5 start to the 2009 campaign. The right-hander posted his third consecutive quality start, giving up three runs on nine hits over six innings, but also watched the longest scoreless-innings streak of his career end at 19 when Ramon Hernandez doubled home Laynce Nix in the fourth.
But it was a pitch to Brandon Phillips in the sixth that ultimately gave control to the Reds (34-32). Jerry Hairston Jr. singled to open the frame, and on a 1-1 offering to Phillips, the second baseman crushed his 11th home run down the left-field line.
There were no complaints about Contreras' work, aside from that one pitch he would like to have back.
"That was it. It cost us the game," said Contreras, who struck out two and didn't issue a walk while throwing 63 of his 100 pitches for strikes in Friday's sweltering heat, through interpreter and bullpen coach Juan Nieves. "I just missed with a slider that stayed middle of the plate in, instead of out and away."
"He threw the ball real good," said Guillen. "It's humid and hot. Late in the game, he started feeling it, and we knew he was struggling with the fatigue. But he made a couple of good pitches the last inning he threw and got out of it. He continues to do all we can ask."
In the three starts since Contreras rejoined the White Sox rotation, the big right-hander has yielded 12 hits and three runs over 22 innings, fanning 13 and walking three. Contreras feels more like he's pitching in April, as opposed to mid-June, as the extended recovery from his ruptured left Achilles, suffered last August, delayed his offseason mound work from November to January.
"Going down to the Minors really was beneficial for me to throw a lot and get stronger," Contreras said. "Now, I feel great. I feel strong. The slider, the split, the fastball, the changeup -- everything."
Getz gave Contreras and the White Sox their 2-0 lead with a 358-foot shot to right, after Ramon Castro coaxed a two-out walk to extend the fourth off Arroyo. The White Sox didn't score again until Konerko blasted the first pitch from closer Francisco Cordero (17th save) for the 999th RBI of his career on a 425-foot prodigious clout.
Anderson represented the last hope for the White Sox with his single following strikeouts from pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski and Getz. But Gordon Beckham grounded into a fielder's choice at second to end the game.
Podsednik, Getz and Ramirez all swiped second base, and the White Sox had four runners in scoring position. None of them ever got as far as third, except for the two home runs.
"Well, we had a few chances, but Arroyo threw the ball good when he had to," Guillen said. "The ballclub couldn't do anything too much offensively."
Cincinnati's victory ended a nine-game losing streak against the White Sox. The loss also could drop the White Sox five games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers, who led Milwaukee in an Interleague game delayed by rain in Detroit.
Lack of any sustained offense proved costly for the White Sox on Friday. The loss certainly can't be attributed to a hangover from Thursday's tough setback, an idea Guillen stressed during his pregame scouting meeting with the team.
"Continue to play hard, and good things will happen," said White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye, who finished 0-for-4 and watched his average drop to .265, of Guillen's Friday message. "It was a tough loss [on Thursday], but [Guillen] said, 'Don't worry about what happened in the past.'"
"They're on the road," said Guillen of his team. "They have to forget very quick because they don't have any choice."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.