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Twins down on several counts

CHICAGO -- The mood inside the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse was uplifting Thursday morning. Manager Ron Gardenhire was back after missing five games for his brother's funeral, and he had some catching up to do. The team had gone 4-1 in his absence....

CHICAGO -- The mood inside the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse was uplifting Thursday morning.

Manager Ron Gardenhire was back after missing five games for his brother's funeral, and he had some catching up to do. The team had gone 4-1 in his absence.

Infielder Nick Punto poked his head into Gardenhire's office and said, "Welcome back, Skip."

"Thank you, sir," Gardenhire said. "Way to go. You guys were my saving grace. You made my days go easier."

But the rest of the day was anything but easy.

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The Twins lost a fifth-inning lead, lost a game -- 6-2 to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field -- lost a series, and lost top setup man Pat Neshek to a potentially serious elbow injury.

Amid all that disappointment, they still found a way to laugh at a sixth-inning display that could become known as The Matt Guerrier Shuffle.

"It was a game of two parts," Gardenhire said. "We were going along good early and got a couple of runs, and then (Kevin) Slowey started overthrowing the ball with the lead. He got a couple of pitches up and got us behind."

Matt Tolbert and Joe Mauer delivered two-out, RBI singles in the fifth inning for a 2-0 lead.

But that same inning, Chicago stormed ahead 3-2 on a home run by Jermaine Dye -- his third of the series -- and a two-run blast by Juan Uribe.

Guerrier relieved Slowey (0-2) to start the sixth, and the White Sox put runners at the corners with no outs.

What followed had the White Sox bench in stitches.

Paul Konerko tried checking his swing at a 3-1 offering from Guerrier. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings called ball four.

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The Twins bench screamed for an appeal of Konerko's check swing. Finally, catcher Joe Mauer turned to Eddings, insisting on an appeal, and first base ump Ted Barrett indeed overruled the call, calling strike two.

Meanwhile, Jim Thome snuck -- as much as a 6-3, 255-pound man can sneak -- to second base for his first stolen base since Sept. 25, 2002.

This sent Guerrier into a frenzy. Illogically, he ran to second base and tagged Thome. Then, he shuffled -- basketball-style -- to third base to tag Carlos Quentin.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen could be seen rolling on his chair in laughter.

"It was funny," Guillen said. "Guerrier was just touching everybody. It's nobody's fault, really."

Said Guerrier: "I was just trying to make something happen, I guess. The whole thing just flustered me."

Seconds later, Gardenhire had his say, and Eddings quickly handed him his first ejection of the season.

Asked if Eddings interpreted his comments as a ball-strike argument, Gardenhire said, "No, he interpreted me telling him he screwed the thing up."

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Guerrier gathered himself and somehow managed to escape that no-out jam, but Quentin pushed Chicago's lead to 4-2 with a two-out, RBI single in the seventh off Juan Rincon.

On came Neshek in the eighth, and with one out, he strained his elbow on a slider to Joe Crede and left the game after 13 pitches.

"I don't know medical terms or anything like that," Neshek said. "It just felt like it tweaked, rolled over -- felt like it snapped, kind of. We're going to get it checked out (this) morning and make sure nothing happened."

A day that had begun so bright ended with that ominous note.

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