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On a night when the music mixer played the likes of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "Dancing Queen," the White Sox got too creative on the base paths Monday.
Their attempts to manufacture runs with the knowledge that speedy leadoff batter Scott Podsednik will be sidelined for nearly two more weeks wilted in a variety of ways as Minnesota earned an efficient 4-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 39,160 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Despite the Sox's third consecutive loss, they possess a 12-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central.
But the Sox's play Monday night gave general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen more reason for pause.
The Sox ran into three outs on the bases and nearly ran themselves out of a rally in the fourth that fizzled anyway. They also suffered a lapse when Nick Punto easily stole third in the seventh inning.
With Podsednik placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a left groin strain, retroactive to Saturday, Guillen went with virtually the same lineup that produced five runs through the first three-plus innings of Sunday's rainout at Boston.
"We have to pick it up," Guillen said. "I believe in the nine guys we put in the lineup every day. Just because Pods isn't in there doesn't mean we're going to make an excuse."
A hit-and-run play in the first was foiled when Paul Konerko popped to first baseman Justin Morneau, who stepped on first for an inning-ending double play.
In the fifth, the Sox cut the deficit to 4-1 on a single by Juan Uribe. But a strong throw by center fielder Lew Ford nailed Joe Crede at home plate for the final out of the inning with hot-hitting Carl Everett on deck.
The coup de grace came in the sixth when Konerko ripped a single down the left-field line but stopped momentarily between first and second as Everett slid safely into third. Twins third baseman Michael Cuddyer alertly threw to second to nail a sliding Konerko.
"I didn't know where the ball was," Konerko said. "I was jammed so bad. After I saw the play go to third, I tried for second. I was safe. I'm out 99 out of 100 times, so I know when I'm safe."
Before the game, Williams acknowledged the Sox's erratic play but stood by his players heading into the stretch drive.
"Part of the inconsistent play recently has been a result of maybe a little lack of day-to-day focus," Williams said. "We're best served worrying about today's game rather than focus on what may or may not be. If we're fortunate to be one of last eight [playoff teams] out there, well, you know what? We've got a shot.
"And I'll take my chances with these guys, because they've shown over the course of a season they can beat you in a variety of ways. But we're just like everyone else. We're not a perfect team and we'll have to fight our way through."
The baserunning shortcomings prevented Jose Contreras from getting off the hook for a four-run fourth. Contreras (7-7) was doomed by two walks that set up two-run singles by Lew Ford and Brent Abernathy.
But the loss of Podsednik through at least Aug. 27 means the Sox must compensate.
"If the old adage holds truepitching and defense carries you more times than notthen we're well-positioned and better than most clubs are," Williams said.