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Jerry Manuel wasn't around to see Cleveland closer Bob Wickman's postgame theatrics Sunday.
But Carlos Lee had a pretty good view, and the White Sox's outfielder was jawing at Wickman as the pitcher wagged his finger toward the Sox's dugout after surviving a ninth-inning scare in the Indians' 4-3 win at Jacobs Field.
"You don't want to know what I said to him," Lee said. "There is no reason to be doing that. It's not like he dominated. He barely got out of it."
Tempers were flaring as the Sox lost their seventh straight, dropping to .500 for the first time since the season's opening week. Manuel and third-base coach Wallace Johnson were ejected by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi in the top of the fifth for questioning his strike zone from the dugout. After being swept for the second straight series, the Sox fell into a second-place tie with the Indians, 3 1/2 games behind division-leading Minnesota.
Chuck Finley (4-6) shut out the Sox on four hits in seven innings, extending his scoreless-innings streak to 16. The Sox rallied for one in the eighth off Paul Shuey and two in the ninth off Wickman, but Frank Thomas lined out to second with two men on to extend the losing streak.
The Sox have gone 68 consecutive innings without scoring more than two runs in an inning. Ragged baserunning by Ray Durham and Magglio Ordonez, and a lack of clutch hits, compounded the frustration. Though the Sox didn't lie down after trailing 4-0, Paul Konerko wasn't looking for moral victories.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal that we battled," Konerko said. "We get paid millions of dollars to come out here and play hard and give your best effort."
Dan Wright (5-6) pitched well in a losing effort, retiring 11 of the first 12 batters he faced and taking a shutout into the fifth. But the Indians broke through with two runs on Chris Magruder's sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Omar Vizquel.
With one on and one out in the seventh, Wright was removed for left-hander Damaso Marte to turn around the switch-hitting Magruder, even though Magruder was 3-for-6 vs. lefties. Magruder homered, making it 4-0. Durham's check-swing RBI single off Shuey snapped the shutout in the eighth, but Thomas popped out with two on and Konerko grounded out meekly with the bases loaded. After scoring two off Wickman in the ninth and putting the tying and go-ahead runners on, Thomas (0-for-5) lined out.
The biggest deficit the Sox have overcome all year is three runs.
"You lose seven in a row, it's not fun to come to the ballpark," Thomas said. "We've got to find a way to shake it."
Manuel's ejection came in the top of the fifth, soon after the Indians took the lead. "That was a big time for us," Manuel said. "You want everyone to execute. They're human. They make mistakes too. It was not a very good time for me."
Manuel appeared to have brushed Cuzzi during their argument but doesn't foresee a suspension.
"My chest isn't that big," Manuel said.