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Rays' defeat turns physical

WHITE SOX 8, RAYS 5 (12): Manager Hal McRae shoves RHP Tanyon Sturtze, but both say everything is okay.

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2002


WHITE SOX 8, RAYS 5 (12): Manager Hal McRae shoves RHP Tanyon Sturtze, but both say everything is okay.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Push came to a two-handed shove Friday.

While the Rays blew a sizable lead and lost 8-5 to the White Sox in 12 innings before 10,823 at Tropicana Field, it was a blowup inside Tampa Bay's dugout that proved uglier than any of its 73 losses this season.

A conversation between Rays starter Tanyon Sturtze and manager Hal McRae turned physical after Sturtze was removed from the game after the fifth inning with the Rays ahead 5-3.

The incident ended with McRae shoving Sturtze in the back as the pitcher walked toward the dugout tunnel on his way to the clubhouse.

"It's a nonissue," McRae said.

"He had every right to shove me," Sturtze told reporters. "You guys would've shoved me, too."

The two met after the game in McRae's office, where Sturtze apologized.

"We're okay with each other now," McRae said. "Everything is okay."

General manager Chuck LaMar did not comment on the incident but planned to call McRae after the game.

Sturtze, who hasn't won since June26, had allowed three runs on eight hits and thrown 99 pitches in his 23rd start of the season when McRae walked to the far end of the dugout with pitching coach Jackie Brown and told him he was coming out.

"I thought he needed to come out," McRae said. "I didn't think he was in control. He ran a high pitch count. He was in jams.

"I was trying to win a baseball game, and I thought he should come out."

It was only the fourth game this season Sturtze left with the lead.

"He doesn't have to," Sturtze said when asked if he was given an explanation for his removal. "He's the manager. When he says that's it, that's it. That's the bottom line."

After learning he was out of the game, Sturtze stood up, patted McRae and got a pat in return. But as he walked toward the dugout tunnel, Sturtze said something over his shoulder to McRae.

Both smiled.

Halfway through the dugout, Sturtze swiped at a pile of towels before grabbing a water cooler from the bench and throwing it across his body and toward the field. The cooler hit McRae in the leg and splashed water on his glasses. That's when McRae caught up to Sturtze and shoved him in the back with both hands.

"It was just me being frustrated," Sturtze said. "It had nothing to do with Hal or anything. I acted in a very unprofessional way."

Three innings later, the Rays lost the lead and cost Sturtze his second win of a season that has been nothing short of disappointing.

The right-hander was the team's MVP, winning 11 games last season, and was the opening day starter this year. The season began with eight consecutive losses.

He entered Friday's game leading the American League in hits and walks allowed but had the worst run support (3.07 per nine innings).

"Tanyon's always had a fiery temper," catcher John Flaherty said. "He's done some things like this in the past. I can't explain anything like that because my personality doesn't come close to that.

"It's one of the things you like in him as a competitor. When he goes out on the mound, he competes, and he gives you everything he's got. Obviously, it came to a head. It's disappointing."

The Rays scored five runs for Sturtze in the second off White Sox starter Gary Glover but saw a 5-1 lead shaved to two by the fourth. Travis Harper replaced Sturtze and allowed two runs on four hits in three innings. Glover, meanwhile, pitched 71/3 innings for the White Sox and allowed five runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked two.

After the five-run second, highlighted by a three-run homer by All-Star centerfielder Randy Winn, the Rays managed two hits from the third through ninth innings.

The White Sox tied in in the eighth on Carlos Lee's two-run homer.

They broke the tie in the 12th off Jesus Colome.

Centerfielder Aaron Rowand doubled down the leftfield line to make it 6-5. The Rays intentionally walked Lee to load the bases. Colome then hit Magglio Ordonez to force the seventh run home and walked Frank Thomas to force the eighth run home.

"It's a tough loss," McRae said. "I thought we should've won in regulation. We didn't take care of business. We didn't get it done."

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