Perhaps the White Sox can blame it on the full moon.
They nearly blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning Tuesday night before escaping with an 8-6 victory over the Twins.
Mark Buehrle said after the Sox extended their lead in the American League Central to a season-high two games. "If we had lost, the momentum would have gone right back to them."
The Sox barely survived after Jose Paniagua entered the game with an 8-2 lead in the ninth.
The 30-year-old right-hander, in his first major-league appearance since Sept. 5, 2002, gave up three hits and a walk while retiring one batter. Then things got even uglier.
As he walked toward the dugout after being removed from the game, Paniagua ripped into home plate umpire Mark Carlson and appeared to make an obscene gesture, drawing an ejection.
"That's something we definitely don't condone and definitely have to address," manager Jerry Manuel said.
Paniagua declined comment.
Summoned to protect a four-run lead with two runners on, closer Tom Gordon walked Torii Hunter before giving up a sacrifice fly and a single.
With the potential go-ahead run at home plate, Gordon blew a fastball past Michael Cuddyer to end the game.
"They might get a little confidence knowing they battled back," Buehrle said. "But they still lost."
The bizarre ninth overshadowed a mammoth power display in the seventh inning that resembled batting practice.
With two outs and the Sox up 4-2, Roberto Alomar clubbed a home run over the Twins' bullpen in right field, allowing the Sox to join Texas and Boston as the only American League teams with 200 homers.
Frank Thomas then lined a double to left-center. Right-hander Grant Balfour replaced Rick Reed, but things got worse for the Twins.
Magglio Ordonez stroked an RBI single to center and Carlos Lee followed that with a towering home run down the left-field line.
It was Lee's 28th homer and it gave him a career-high 100 RBIs.
"It's encouraging and rewarding to see a young player come through the system and reach that plateau," Manuel said.
Buehrle improved to 12-13 despite laboring through six innings.
He needed help to protect a 3-2 lead in the sixth. After Corey Koskie led off with a double, Hunter chunked a grounder into the dirt near home plate.
Sandy Alomar Jr. threw to third to nab Koskie, drawing an impassioned argument from third-base coach Al Newman. Replays showed Koskie was safe.
After hitting A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch, Buehrle picked him off first for the second out, bringing an already lively home crowd of 27,623 to its feet.
"That's the loudest I've ever heard this place," Buehrle said.
The Sox had an uneasy feeling entering the game, like a ship approaching icy waters without radar.
They had no video of Twins left-hander Carlos Pulido, a soft thrower making his first major-league start since 1994.
"The key for us is to be patient," Manuel said. "I think we have enough veteran-type hitters to grasp that philosophy."
Manuel was right. Pulido needed 24 pitches to retire the Sox's four hitters in the first.
The Sox jumped on him in the second. Joe Crede broke a scoreless tie by driving in Lee from third base. Alomar Jr. added a sacrifice fly and Tony Graffanino drove in Crede with jam shot past first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.
White Sox 8, Twins 6
Sox keep on chuggin'
Bullpen nearly blows 6-run cushion; Twins fall 2 games behind
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