W. Sox strike back

Disputed third strike in 9th sparks Game 2 victory

White Sox 2, Angels 1


Chicago -- In yet another example that the "out" is often overrated in "strikeout," the Chicago White Sox found themselves right back in. They are right back in the American League Championship Series, tied at a game apiece, after getting a favorable ruling and a big hit in the bottom of the ninth last night.

They beat the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, in a taut Game 2 that was decided basically by a strikeout. A.J. Pierzynski ran to first and was allowed to stay there on a disputed two-out third strikeout call, and after his pinch runner Pablo Ozuna stole second, Joe Crede drilled a double to the left-field corner.

The crowd at U.S. Cellular Field let out a burst of noise that kept going, just as its team kept its hopes going.

It was a little ironic for the Angels, who argued vigorously over the Pierzynski strikeout. They had benefited from a disputed strikeout call in Game 5 against the New York Yankees on Monday, when umpires ruled that Robinson Cano - apparently safe on a two-out strikeout - was illegally running inside the baseline.

This time, the Angels weren't as fortunate. They lost to Mark Buehrle, who pitched a complete game and gave up only five hits.

Maybe this was what White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had foreseen when he said, before the game, "This is a different level of baseball game."

In a striking twist, to say the least, the Angels thought they had ended the ninth inning with Kelvim Escobar's apparent strikeout.

Escobar's low pitch was gloved by backup catcher Josh Paul - he appeared to grab it just before the ball would have hit the dirt. And behind him, home plate umpire Doug Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his fist, signaling strike three.

Pierzynski hustled and took off for first base anyway, just in case. Sure the inning was over, Paul rolled the ball out to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field, so Pierzynski was easily safe.

Then everybody stopped, including the umpires. When they let Pierzynski stay at first, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to argue.

"When he rings him up with a fist, he's out," Scioscia said.

The White Sox disagreed. "Do we feel lucky? No," Pierzynski said. "Did they feel lucky when they won [Tuesday night]?"

Scioscia made a point to say that Jarrod Washburn is a gamer. He took the ball last night despite having had a case of strep throat so bad that he was ordered to stay away from his teammates. As late as yesterday afternoon, Scioscia said, "He's a little green behind the gills still."

But at the start, he showed no signs of being wobbly. At least not in his throws to the plate. His troublesome and costly toss was a soft one to first base on leadoff batter Scott Podsednik's easy ground ball. Washburn's throw sailed way over first baseman Darin Erstad and Podsednik took second. He took third on a sacrifice and scored on Jermaine Dye's groundout. One run, no hits.

Robb Quinlan, a platoon player who starts against left-handers, tied it with a home run in the fifth off Buehrle. "Obviously," Buehrle said, "every guy in that lineup can hurt you."

Obviously, the same could be said about the White Sox.

It's just that the Angels' bullpen makes it a lot tougher for any lineup to look so damaging. Brendan Donnelly relieved Washburn with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth and struck out Dye. Scot Shields pitched a scoreless inning and was followed by Escobar.

Mark Herrmann writes for Newsday. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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