White Sox in Series

In Chicago, they're celebrating like it's 1959 as Sox finally return

White Sox 6, Angels 3


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Chicago White Sox are in the World Series.

Go ahead. Give it a moment to sink in. It has been 46 years.

The Sox secured their first pennant since 1959 when they beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-3, last night at Angel Stadium to complete a four-games-to-one victory in an American League Championship Series they dominated with pitching.

After nearly a half-century of ho-hum baseball, the White Sox finally made it back last night. A.J. Pierzynski came out on the right side of yet another umpiring ruckus and Jose Contreras pitched Chicago's fourth straight complete game in the clincher.

Joe Crede tied the game 3-3 with a home run in the seventh inning, then brought in the go-ahead run with a multiple-hop single that barely reached the outfield grass as Aaron Rowand scooted home from second with two outs in the eighth.

They pushed across two insurance runs in the ninth, one on a double by Paul Konerko, the hitting star of the series.

A light but steady rain couldn't dampen the celebration that began when Contreras retired Casey Kotchman for the final out, and it continued into the wee hours in those parts of the Chicago area that hold the White Sox near and dear.

The White Sox will take on either Houston or St. Louis, starting at home Saturday night. It will be Chicago's first World Series since 1959, and the White Sox will get a chance at their first title since 1917.

And it will also give them a shot at some long overdue redemption - they lost the most infamous World Series ever, when Shoeless Joe and his "Black Sox" threw games against Cincinnati in 1919 and gave baseball a black eye.

The 46-year gap between Series appearances is the longest in major league history.

Whoa Nellie!

The last time Chicago's South Side team made it this far, it was all about Nellie Fox and his Go-Go Sox.

"We're in the World Series!" White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf hollered in his suite after the final out.

Reinsdorf once said he would trade all six NBA titles won by his Chicago Bulls for one World Series championship, and his opportunity is coming.

"I still can't believe it," he said, heading to the clubhouse to celebrate with his team. "I'm numb right now. Honest to God, it hasn't sunk in. I think something really good is happening, but I'm not sure what it is."

It's pitching, that what it is.

The White Sox became the first team to pitch four complete games in a single postseason series since the 1956 New York Yankees got them from Whitey Ford, Tom Sturdivant, Don Larsen (his perfect game) and Bob Turley against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Contreras retired his final 15 batters and pitched a five-hitter, following Mark Buehrle's five-hitter in Game 2, Jon Garland's four-hitter in Game 3 and Freddy Garcia's six-hitter in Game 4.

It was complete domination - Chicago's bullpen got just two outs in the entire series.

Chicago held the Angels to 11 runs in the series - the fewest in an ALCS of five or more games. Los Angeles had just 27 hits - the fewest in any LCS going five games or longer.

Los Angeles was leading 3-2 when Crede hit a leadoff homer in the seventh against loser Kelvim Escobar.

Escobar struck out four in a row, and five overall, before walking Rowand with two outs in the eighth.

Then, Pierzynski found himself in the middle of another contested call.

In Game 2, he struck out with two outs in the ninth but reached when umpires ruled catcher Josh Paul didn't catch the ball. Crede followed with a winning double that tied the series.

In Game 4, Pierzynski admitted his mitt nicked the bat of Steve Finley, who hit into an inning-ending double play that ended an Angels' rally attempt as umpires failed to make the call.

This time, he hit a comebacker to Escobar, who instead of throwing to first ran toward the foul line to make a tag play. He tagged Pierzynski with his glove - but the ball wasn't there, it was in his bare right hand.

Pierzynski initially was called out, but Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen argued, umpires conferenced and reversed the call, bringing Angels manager Mike Scioscia for a dispute.

Los Angeles then brought in closer Francisco Rodriguez to face Crede. K-Rod threw a 1-2 breaking ball that the crowd thought was strike three but was called a ball by plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Rodriguez threw another ball and Crede hit a grounder up the middle.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy dived on the shortstop side to stop it and threw home from a half-sitting position, but the throw was off-line and late, and Rowand scored the go-ahead run.

ALCS MVP Paul Konerko added an RBI double in the ninth and Rowand boosted the margin with a sacrifice fly.

It was the sixth AL pennant for the White Sox, who have won the Series just twice.

It was a triumph for the high-energy, low-pressure style brought by Guillen, who had long been a shortstop for the club. His emphasis on taking one day at a time allowed the White Sox to play without feeling the brunt of history. "Whatever happened the day before, we don't care," Guillen said. "We start over the next day."

The club's style also allowed it to excel in tight games, what with its reliance on pitching instead of offensive power.

"We needed to break the mold that we had going at the time," said Konerko.

At the Cork & Kerry, a neighborhood pub on Chicago's South Side, Bob O'Dekirk lit up a victory cigar.

"I've waited my whole life for this," he said, predicting his team would win the series. "With this pitching, I don't know who's going beat them."

Dan McGrath writes for the Chicago Tribune. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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