The benches emptied, players glared at one anotherand the umpires positioned themselves to restore order. But the White Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays avoided a physical confrontation after a Doug Waechter pitch plunked Frank Thomas in the sixth inning Saturday.
"We were just trying to crowd him," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said of the errant pitch.
Ozzie Guillen, who stormed to the mound to ask Waechter if he was throwing at Thomas intentionally.
Three innings later, the Devil Rays had evened the series with a 4-1 victory before a crowd of 17,062 at U.S. Cellular Field. The only Sox run was Thomas' solo homer in the fourth inning. Danny Wright (0-3), winless in his last 11 startsdating to last year, kept the Sox close, but they stranded eight baserunners, including three in the eighth.
"I like what I saw from Danny," Guillen said, adding that Wright will remain his fifth starter. "He was aggressive and he kept us in the game."
Wright, who threw 101 pitches, also hit a batter and was charged with a balk.
"The fifth spot is not something that is really coveted. But if you're in that situation, you just deal with it," Wright said. "I was aggressive with my fastball. I made a few mistakes, but I was pleased overall. I'm definitely making progress."
The Sox's leadoff hitter failed to get on base the entire game as Waechter (1-0) allowed one run on four hits in six innings.
"I never want to take the bat out of the hitter's hands. I don't want to say be patient at the plate, because I was never patient," Guillen said of his team's six-hit attack. "I just want them to have good at-bats. Everyone here has enough experience that they know what they have to do. I will take the bat away from them if they are not doing what they're supposed to do."
The Sox fell behind 2-0 in the fourth. The two-out rally started when Rocco Baldelli reached on an infield hit and stole second. Robert Fick then hit a ground ball to first baseman Paul Konerko, whose throw to Wright at first was wild. Baldelli scored on the error.
After Tino Martinez singled, Julio Lugo drove in Fick with a double for all the runs the Devil Rays would need.
The Sox couldn't capitalize with the bases loaded in the eighth. Timo Perez and Juan Uribe had one-out singles off reliever Lance Carter and Thomas drew a two-out walk off Danys Baez to load the bases. But Carlos Lee popped out to second on the first pitch.
Guillen is a strong proponent of having his players do the little things to score and win games.
"Talent doesn't win games," Guillen said. "If you don't play the game right, you are not going to win, no matter how much talent you have. Last year (when he coached with the Florida Marlins), we didn't have that talent, but we stuck together and did everything we could do to win. That makes it easier for me to come down here and bring what I learned to this ballclub.
"This ballclub has a lot of talent, but people don't believe in them. They don't believe in themselves, because they never played together. They play together in the lineup, but they don't play together as a team. Now they are doing it, and I'm going to do everything in my power to keep things that way.
"If they don't do it that way, they are not going to be here playing for me. They know it too."
Devil Rays 4, White Sox 1