These weren't warning signs but merely reminders that the White Sox's mission is far from complete.

Jose Contreras' four-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday night as the Sox fell 6-4 to a struggling Detroit team he hasn't beaten since August 2006.

The slow-footed Sox also ran into four outs on the basepaths that ended any chance of a comeback in a defeat that snapped their seven-game winning streak.

"I'm glad we fought back," Contreras said after the Sox (37-27) tried to rally twice from two late three-run deficits and brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings.

"We're a fighting team. We're in first place for that reason. Everyone is doing their job. When it's their turn, the bullpen shuts people down. I'm not worried about myself because the only time I have to worry is when I'm hurt."

Yet it was a strange loss in which the Sox placed a runner on base in every inning and collected at least 11 hits for the ninth consecutive game but fell short to a fourth-place Detroit team (27-37) that has a sub-.500 record at Comerica Park (15-16).

"We just couldn't scratch that big hit," right fielder Jermaine Dye said. "We battled. We were one or two hits away from getting back into the game and tying it up."

The end of a long winning streak was tempered by the Sox's offensive production, at least from a hitting standpoint. Designated hitter Jim Thome had three hits, including a home run in the second off left-hander Nate Robertson that moved him into a tie for 18th place on the all-time list with Frank Thomas at 520.

Thome led off the seventh with a single and scored. In the eighth, he singled to left with one out, but Carlos Quentin was nailed trying to score from second and Dye flied to right to end the rally.

The Sox were unsuccessful twice in trying to steal off Gold Glove catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

"I think the Cuban Missile ( Alexei Ramirez) just got a bad jump on the second [attempt], and we tried to get them going," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think we feel comfortable. We know Pudge can throw the ball well, but I always feel you steal the base against the pitcher, not the catcher."

The Tigers tagged all but one of their 14 hits off Contreras.

"Anyone in this division can do damage," Dye said.

Detroit has served as kryptonite for Contreras, who has lost five consecutive decisions to the Tigers since beating them Aug. 11, 2006.

Detroit pummeled Contreras for 11 hits after the third inning.

"I feel bad I couldn't help the team," said Contreras, who hadn't lost since May 4. "Everyone is doing well. I let my team down. I feel bad. It's a natural thing.

"But as long as we're winning, that's fine. We're in first place. That's all that matters."

mgonzales@tribune.com