Dye, Contreras pair up to oust Twins

Dye, Contreras pair up to oust Twins

CHICAGO -- There didn't seem to be much more that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen could have asked for out of his team following the White Sox 3-1 win over Minnesota on Friday.

Starter Jose Contreras threw the first complete game of his Major League career, Jermaine Dye came up with a three-run home run after missing a big opportunity the night before and the Sox got a much needed win to keep hold of their slim 1 1/2-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.

Yet when Guillen came to the podium for his postgame press conference following the win, the skipper sounded more like a manager angry about his team's inability to produce after a loss.

The abruptness of his answers and obvious frustration on his face showed that maybe the tight games of his team are wearing on the second-year manager, and he knows that his club will have to come up with better performances if it wants to make it to the playoffs.

Though he had many positives to take from the game, Guillen seemed much more focused on his team's lack of execution in clutch situations.

It was the second night in a row that the Sox were unable to capitalize on all of their offensive opportunities. Twice on Friday, Chicago (92-61) had runners in scoring position with only one out and was unable to bring them home. This was a fact that sent Guillen on his own rant.

"It was frustrating when we got a man on second and third, less than two outs and we don't score," Guillen said. "We have to. We cannot let that thing happen day in and day out. We have to bring those guys in. I don't want to be on my players' tail, but if we want to win, we have to do those little things. There's no reason two nights in a row it happened the same way. We have to score as many runs as we can, because that's going to kill us the next couple games."

Much of the reason that the Sox weren't snake-bitten again by an inability to capitalize on those opportunities was thanks to the impressive performance by Contreras (14-7).

The Cuban right-hander delivered his first complete game in the Major Leagues in what may have been his most dominating outing in a White Sox uniform. Contreras allowed only one run on five hits while striking out nine.

"It's one of the best games I've pitched in my career as a baseball player," Contreras said through an interpreter. "Me and the guys knew that was a big game, so it feels good to come out with a win."

Part of the reason Guillen may have been so upset was the chorus of boos he drew from the crowd when he went out to the mound in the ninth with two outs to talk to Contreras. Guillen said he had no plans to take his pitcher out of the game, but wanted to make sure that with a runner on and Jacque Jones at the plate, Contreras didn't throw any fastballs to the hitter that has been a killer to Chicago in the past.

"People think I'm a bad manager or I don't know about the game or I fall asleep during the game, and all of a sudden I wake up and go and change pitchers," Guillen said. "I'm watching the same game they do. It's frustrating when you go there and they don't even know what I'm going to do and all of a sudden, they boo."

Guillen's biting comments also pertained to the fact that the pitcher who threw the game was the same one that many were calling for to be shipped out of Chicago during his rough stretch of the first half. Guillen has said that he's always believed that Contreras had the best arm of his staff, but now it's confidence and avoiding mistakes that have propelled the right-hander to a 10-2 record, one of the best in the AL, since the start of the second half.

"He was his own enemy -- walking people, hitting people, wild pitches, big innings, and all of a sudden we got the guts to keep him in the starting rotation," Guillen said. "Two months ago, everybody in Chicago want to kill this kid and get him out of town because he was pitching horrible. All of a sudden he's the Cy Young winner.

"Thank God we have him right now. Thank God this kid wins a big game for us and shows the guys when you have confidence in yourself and you throw strikes and attack the strike zone, you win a lot of games."

It was the second impressive pitching performance in a row for the Sox, but unlike Brandon McCarthy on Thursday, Contreras was able to get some run support from the Sox offense.

Chicago took an early lead in the first on a three-run homer by Jermaine Dye to make it a 3-0 game. Dye's long ball came with two outs in the inning after Scott Podsednik led off the inning with a double, followed by two straight outs before Paul Konerko walked.

"I didn't even think it was going to get out," Dye said of his homer. "I thought it was going to be off the wall and we'd score at least one run, maybe two.

"Last night, I couldn't get it done and tonight, I'm a hero."

Minnesota (78-75) scored its only run in the seventh. Twins catcher Joe Mauer led off the inning with a single and recorded his 13th stolen base of the season to move into scoring position. After two straight strikeouts by Contreras, right fielder Michael Ryan hit a single to right to score Mauer.

The Twins knew coming into the game that facing one of the hottest pitchers in the American League would make it difficult to score runs, but manager Ron Gardenhire said that the stuff Contreras had was more impressive than he imagined it would be.

"Contreras, we knew, has been hot and throwing the ball great," Gardenhire said. "That's as good of a forkball we've seen. It looked like a knuckleball at times. We had a hard time hitting that thing. It was dancing all over the place."

With Cleveland, New York and Boston all pulling out victories on Friday night, the win seemed even bigger to Chicago's playoff chances. The team's magic number for a playoff berth is now down to seven with nine games to play.

Though Contreras was happy with his performance and coming up in the clutch, he reiterated that this game was just the start of a tough stretch for the club.

"The game [Saturday] seems just as big as today's game," Contreras said. "We can't lose from this point on."

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.