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When push comes to shove, Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae is usually right in the middle of things.
McRae added some spice to an otherwise dull White Sox-Devil Rays game Friday night by shoving his starting pitcher in the dugout during an argument the roving eye of the TV cameras caught.
McRae pushed ex-Sox starter Tanyon Sturtze in the back when Sturtze dumped a water cooler and made a scene in the dugout shortly after his removal after five innings.
Sturtze left with a 5-3 lead, but the Sox eventually came back to post an 8-5victory in 12 innings at Tropicana Field.
Aaron Rowand's run-scoring double off Jesus Colome ignited a three-run 12th inning. Sox pitchers held the Devils Ray to six hits.
But the McRae-Sturtze incident took center stage, continuing the recent trend of pitcher-manager altercations.
"I acted a little unprofessional and you guys ended up seeing it," Sturtze said.
"It was just me being frustrated. It had nothing to do with Hal.
He had every right to shove me. Every one of you would've shoved me too."
It was the third time in the last three weeks a manager has been engaged in a heated argument with a pitcher after that pitcher's removal.
Montreal manager Frank Robinson screamed at Expos pitcher Tony Armas Jr. on July 15 when Armas decided to leave the mound on a pitching change before Robinson's arrival.
On July 24 Milwaukee manager Jerry Royster exchanged vulgarities on the mound with reliever Mike DeJean after DeJean refused to leave during a pitching change.
McRae didn't want to discuss the incident and said everything was over.
Told that it was caught on camera and would be shown repeatedly on TV, McRae replied, "So be it."
It was that kind of night, one in which Carlos Lee circled the bases twice on home runs to left, but only one of them actually counted.
In the first inning Lee hit a towering fly to left that bounced off a catwalk above the upper deck for an apparent two-run homer.
He stood at home and watched the ball the entire way, apparently thinking it was foul. When it was ruled fair, Lee trotted around the bases to give the Sox an apparent 2-0 lead.
But after McRae argued the umpires changed the ruling and sent Lee back to the plate and Willie Harris back to third. Lee was called out on strikes on the next pitch, but Magglio Ordonez singled home Harris.
Sox starter Gary Glover gave up five runs in the bottom of the second, the second time in two nights a Sox starter has been hit with a five-run inning and the 16th time this season a starter has given up five or more runs in an inning.
John Flaherty's two-run single put the Rays ahead and Randy Winn added a three-run homer to make it 5-1. The Sox scored two off Sturtze in the fourth to cut the deficit to two and tied it in the eighth on Lee's two-run homer off reliever Travis Harper.
This time Lee hit the left-field foul pole, making a "ping" noise that was audible all throughout the near-empty ballpark.