John Lackey and Jose Contreras have already engaged in one pitchers' duel this season.
They'll meet again on Sunday night as Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels try to complete a three-game sweep of Contreras and the Chicago White Sox in a matchup of division leaders at U.S. Cellular Field.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Chicago -105 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles --105 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
After missing the first six weeks of the season with a strained triceps, Lackey (1-0, 1.29 ERA) made his season debut against Chicago (26-22) and Contreras (5-3, 3.17) on May 14 in Anaheim. Both starters were excellent, allowing one run through seven innings, before Carlos Quentin's grand slam off reliever Scot Shields in the eighth put the White Sox ahead for good in their 6-1 victory.
Lackey threw 99 pitches, giving up six hits while striking out four and walking one. The All-Star right-hander retired 14 of 15 batters during one stretch and allowed just two hits after Paul Konerko's leadoff single in the second inning.
While Lackey did not get a decision, Contreras earned the win in the middle game of his current three-start winning streak. The Cuban right-hander has allowed exactly one run in each of those victories, including a six-inning stint on Tuesday in a 4-1 win over Cleveland.
"If he can throw the splitty (split-finger) over the plate, he has a chance," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski told the team's official Web site. "He's been doing that, and that's why he's looking so dominant so far this year."
Since the start of the 2006 season, Contreras is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts against the Angels. Veteran Los Angeles outfielder Garret Anderson, however, is 11-for-23 (.478) in his career against Contreras.
Lackey, meanwhile, earned his first victory in his second start Tuesday at Toronto. He again lasted seven innings, yielding only one run while striking out six.
"I felt pretty good," Lackey said. "I found my fastball location and, from the second inning on, I started locating better and was still able to throw the breaking ball for a strike when I needed to."
Lackey has dominated Nick Swisher in his career, limiting the Chicago outfielder to four hits in 37 at-bats with 14 strikeouts.
Los Angeles (30-21) is looking to complete its first sweep of Chicago since winning three road games from Sept. 9-11, 2005. The White Sox entered this series on a season-high eight-game winning streak, but have managed just one run and seven hits in losing the first two games.
Angels starter Joe Saunders pitched into the ninth inning of Friday's 3-1 win before Jered Weaver worked eight innings in a 2-0 victory on Saturday. The Angels have posted a 1.87 ERA while winning five of their last six games.
Konerko missed his second straight game Saturday with an injured right hand for Chicago, which has several other hitters struggling on this six-game homestand. Pierzynski (1-for-16), Quentin (3-for-17) and Jim Thome (4-for-18) have all had problems getting untracked.
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