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By the time A.J. Pierzynski made peace with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, the White Sox had lost a series of battles Monday in a 10-4 loss that doesn't bode well in their quest to sustain a semblance of momentum.
The Sox blew a comeback lead against nemesis Johan Santana after Pierzynski was accused of spiking American League Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau while unsuccessfully trying to beat out a double-play grounder in the top of the sixth inning.
Whether or not Gardenhire's fiery chat with the umpires actually motivated the Twins to score five runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Sox's weaknesses became further exposed.
A struggling bullpen suffered another blow when reliever David Aardsma yielded the tying run before surrendering a three-run double to Mike Redmond to cap the five-run sixth.
Jose Contreras' invincibility at the Metrodome evaporated, as the lack of a sharp fastball resulted in him yielding a season-high 10 hits to go with seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
And despite a breakout game by Paul Konerko, who hit a home run and gave the Sox a 4-3 lead with a two-run single off Santana in the sixth, the Sox fell to 4-8 in games against left-handed starters this season, including five losses in their last six.
The pitching staff gave up a season-high 16 hits and has surrendered 31 in the last two games, putting more pressure on an offense that is finally providing more support.
That the Sox managed only one hit in the final three innings was overshadowed by Pierzynski's play.
"The first thing, I would never try to hurt … especially Morneau … he's too good of a player, and we don't want to make these guys mad," said Pierzynski, who drew a long glare from Morneau, allegations from Twins first-base coach Jerry White and shouts from the Twins' dugout.
"Every time we do, they score 10 runs against us. It was nothing. It was a misunderstanding. I already talked to [Gardenhire], already talked to Justin, and I'll do it again if I have to."
Pierzynski met with Gardenhire immediately after the game.
Said Gardenhire: "He explained it to me. That's good enough for me. That's over with. I was just reacting to an umpire (Greg Gibson) pointing to our dugout and telling us to be quiet. That really irritated me. That was it, and Greg's a great guy over there."
Morneau said he got clipped by Pierzynski's foot but was satisfied with his explanation.
"He said he didn't know if he did it or not, and I was fine with that," Morneau said. "We kind of woke up after that."
The Sox didn't think Torii Hunter was trying to rub it in their faces when he stole third in the eighth with a four-run lead.
But Hunter revealed that Pierzynski might have fired up the Twins with his play.
"A.J.'s a nice guy off the field," Hunter said. "But on the field, I just think he tries to get in your head a little bit, and he did that. I guess he woke up a sleeping dog, and you don't want to do that."
Meanwhile, the lack of zip on Contreras' fastball was evident from the start, although he did fool Jason Kubel on an overhand curve for a called third strike for the second out in the second.
That was before he hit Jason Bartlett to set up a two-run rally.
That set the tone as the Twins scored seven runs after two outs.
"It just seems like we've been giving up some runs lately, which is getting us behind and we don't really have a chance until the last couple of innings," Pierzynski said. "It's on me, on everybody. We have to find a way to be better in those situations and not give up runs."