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Sox waste early lead in loss to Twins

Rough seventh sends Sox to defeat

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As Ozzie Guillen rants go, Thursday's 15-second postgame commentary in the visitors' clubhouse of the Metrodome barely rated a blip on the radar. It wouldn't even have ranked as Top 50 on the hit parade, let alone Top 10.

It was the meaning behind Guillen's words that stood out after Minnesota's 10-6 victory pulled the Twins back within a half-game of first place in the American League Central. Guillen walked into an unusually quiet atmosphere for his team following a meeting with the media, and quickly made his point that one loss, or even three losses in four games, does not a playoff run make.

"This place is like a cemetery in here. Get the music on," said Guillen, as he fiddled with the clubhouse stereo. "People have real problems in this world. There are people who have cancer. Don't sit around here feeling sorry for yourself because you lost a game in this place."

While it was not certain whether the White Sox were a bit down after Minnesota erased its second four-run deficit of this series or they were simply enjoying their postgame spread, Guillen briefly -- but quickly -- got their attention.

The Twins (60-48) improved to 5-1 against the White Sox (60-47) at the Metrodome this season.

Thursday's series finale once again came down to bullpen efficiency, or lack thereof in the case of the White Sox. Minnesota scored four times in the seventh inning to erase a one-run deficit, and it was a rally that began in a rather strange manner.

Denard Span, the Twins' fleet-footed leadoff man, tried to bunt at a pitch from White Sox starter John Danks but appeared to get hit by the offering instead. As Span was strolling to first, the call was appealed and ruled an attempted bunt by third-base umpire Marty Foster, thus making it a strike.

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire took over from there. His argument earned career ejection No. 41 from Foster, an entertaining show that ended with a hat toss followed by a complicated hat kick.

"I knew Gardy was going to throw his hat eventually," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who had a front row seat for Gardenhire's show when he played for the Twins. "That's his go-to move. He usually doesn't kick it. That was kind of entertaining."

"Kicking the hat was probably a little much," Gardenhire added. "I hope [Minnesota Vikings] coach [Brad] Childress saw that if he ever needs a kicker."

Gardenhire's kick led to fans' hats and other assorted objects flying out of the stands. So, with a 1-2 count on Span and nobody out, Guillen pulled his team off the field for their personal safety. The unplanned intermission lasted somewhere between five and 10 minutes.

When the teams returned, Danks walked Span and inadvertently set the Minnesota rally in motion. Danks was not happy about the break but wouldn't use it as an excuse.

"That was a little disappointing being ready to go and have to sit there for 10 minutes in the dugout," said Danks, who added the umpires told him to take the needed time to get ready. "I don't want to get myself in trouble, but it's one of those things I've never been a part of.

"I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I walked him and it's on me. I wasn't disrupted."

Span came around to score on Joe Mauer's bad-hop single past shortstop Orlando Cabrera, following a wild pitch from Matt Thornton (4-3). Octavio Dotel replaced Thornton after Justin Morneau, who launched a three-run home run in the fifth to get the Twins back in the fight, grounded into a fielder's choice. Dotel hit Delmon Young with a pitch and then grooved one to Jason Kubel, who blasted his 11th home run in 35 career games against the White Sox for a 7-4 Minnesota lead.

Jermaine Dye's two-run home run off Matt Guerrier in the eighth cut Minnesota's advantage to one. But two White Sox errors and another shaky relief appearance from Boone Logan in the bottom of the frame raised the lead to 10-6 for Joe Nathan in the ninth. It was a frustrating effort from the White Sox bullpen, which contributed to the staff's ERA rising to a lofty 6.20 in its past 16 games.

"It's not frustrating for me. I have a job," Guillen said. "I have frustration when my kids do bad in school. They aren't my kids. I have a job to do. I think I do my job the right way.

"But I went out to the field like six times tonight, and all six times I was wrong. Like I say, bullpens make good managers, and today I was pretty bad. I made the wrong decisions every time."

No wonder Guillen brushed off a last question about his excitement over the arrival of Ken Griffey Jr., adding that he couldn't have helped Thursday because he can't pitch. Along with Dye's 25th home run, Jim Thome reached 20 long balls this season via a two-run blast off Scott Baker in the second.

Cabrera and Carlos Quentin had two hits apiece, Pierzynski drove in two runs with a fifth-inning single and Danks stayed unbeaten since May 24 by allowing four runs on eight hits over six-plus innings. It was another strong finish by the Twins that led to this victory, and in turn, produced Guillen's impromptu clubhouse speech.

Guillen certainly knows there's always tomorrow, and so does his team.

"We are in it for the long haul, too," Pierzynski said. "This is going to be tough, though, right down to the wire."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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