Thome hurt in bittersweet 'W' for Sox

The White Sox won one and lost another Friday night.

The victory was 7-3 over the Angels with Darin Erstad driving in the winning run in his first game against his old teammates.

The loss was the bat of Jim Thome, who left the game in the first inning with a recurrence of a rib cage injury and probably will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

And while the loss of Thome was a blow, the return of Jermaine Dye from injury was a two-homer success to help starter Jose Contreras before an announced crowd of 30,193 at chilly U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox delayed a decision on what to do with Thome.

"We came up empty," manager Ozzie Guillen said about a postgame meeting. "We're going to wait for a day or two to see what decision we make. We won't call up somebody to play two innings. Everybody has got to step it up a notch."

Guillen said he was more concerned about the second half than using an injured player right now.

"I always worry about that injury more than any other," Guillen said. "That part of the body is sensitive when you swing."

Thome, playing his first game since injuring the right rib cage muscle Monday, fouled off the first pitch he saw from Angels starter Ervin Santana and left the game.

His bat will be missed in the important third spot in the lineup because he entered the game leading the Sox in batting average and homers and was third in RBIs. He also led the American League in walks and on-base percentage.

If Thome has to be placed on the DL, he would join leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik, who may not be back until June because of a strained abductor muscle.

Contreras (2-2) got through 6 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits and just three walks, leaving with a 4-3 lead.

Contreras, the Sox's Opening Day starter, had allowed 10 of his 16 runs in the first innings of his previous four starts. But he was perfect in the first Friday.

And he was not scored upon through five innings while Sox hitters staked him to a 3-0 lead on back-to-back homers from Dye and A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth inning and an RBI double from Paul Konerko in the fifth.

"He has gotten better, he has gotten stronger," Guillen said of Contreras. "Hopefully, little-by-little, he'll step it up a notch."

Contreras' shutout string ended in the sixth when the Angels scored three and had another runner thrown out at third base.

The big blow was a two-run homer by Casey Kotchman on a 3-0 pitch. But the Sox regained the lead in the bottom half on Erstad's RBI double.

Dye's second solo homer then upped the Sox margin to 5-3 in the seventh and Tadahito Iguchi's triple scored Juan Uribe and Erstad in the eighth inning before David Aardsma came on to finish the ninth.

For Erstad, in his first Sox season after a decade with the Angels, it was a night to remember. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in his first official appearance against his former team.

"I have a lot of great memories there, but that page of the book is closed and I'm starting a new chapter," Erstad said.

"Once you get on the field and start playing, you just compete like you do any other day."