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Javier Vazquez's sudden meltdown Saturday night became a fifth inning of fury for the White Sox.
They saw a four-run lead quickly dissolve and eventually lead to the ejections of manager Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper in a bizarre 8-4 loss to the Twins.
The rapid transformation overshadowed the fact the Sox lost their third consecutive game and their lead over the Tigers in the American League Central is only a half-game.
Of the three losses, this was the most difficult to assess because Vazquez (4-2) appeared on his way to winning his fifth consecutive decision with a seemingly comfortable lead.
It all changed when the Twins scored five times in the fifth off Vazquez, and reached a boiling point when home plate umpire Ron Kulpa ruled Michael Cuddyer was hit by a pitch Guillen contended Cuddyer swung at.
Guillen immediately ran to first-base umpire Dale Scott, who declined to overrule Kulpabefore giving Guillen his first ejection of the season and his fifth as Sox manager.
"One thing about this league, you can't argue about anything," said Guillen, who said Scott immediately warned him before he came onto the field.
"You argue about balks, you're out of the game. You argue about strikes, you're out of the game. You argue about checked swings, you're out of the game. You argue about hit by pitches, you're out of the game.
"What I would like to know, who ever runs this game, send me a note and say what any manager can go out and argue with the umpire. I don't say it was wrong or right, but I'd like to know what you can argue. Because if you can't argue about anything, why do we have a job for you? It's good to protect the umpires, but you have to have some limits."
"When you go argue with the umpires and the first thing they say is you can't argue this or that, then what is my job, to make the lineup and watch the game?"
Guillen continued to argue with Kulpa before walking away. As Guillen turned his back, Kulpa tossed Cooper, who was sitting in the dugout. Cooper said he merely told Kulpa he missed the call and said he didn't curse him.
"What kind of game are we playing?" Guillen said. "We're not playing Little League. This isn't college. This is the big-league level."
Vazquez said the ruling had no bearing on his performance. But after seeing the replay, he said Cuddyer swung.
"No doubt, no doubt," Vazquez said.
Bench coach Tim Raines took over the managerial duties and pulled Vazquez in the sixth after Luis Castillo yanked a two-run home run over the wall in right-center field to extend the Twins' lead to 7-4.
Vazquez has allowed 21 runs this season, and 10 have come in the fifth on two five-run rallies. Castillo's home run was the first Vazquez has allowed since Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand hit one off him on April 14--the last time Vazquez allowed five runs in an inning.
There were other pitching mishaps. Reliever Cliff Politte pitched from a full windup in the seventh that allowed Justin Morneau to steal second without a throw.
And in the eighth, Castillo easily stole third on the first pitch left-hander Matt Thornton threw.
The Sox scored three of their four runs on sacrifice flies but missed a chance to knock out Twins starter Brad Radke before the sixth.