White Sox jump on top

Jenks closes out Astros in opener

injury sidelines Clemens early

World Series

White Sox 5 Astros 3

October 23, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen approached the mound in the top of the eighth inning and didnt just tap his right arm to signal for a reliever.

He pointed upward and spread his arms wide a little theatrics on a night of pageantry on the South Side to show he wanted Bobby Jenks, the enormous rookie closer, to enter and seize the biggest baseball moment here in 46 years.

The move with or without the flair worked perfectly.

Jenks pitched out of a two-runner, two-out jam in the eighth and threw a perfect ninth to give the White Sox a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros in Game$1 of the World Series.

The Astros were in position to tie or go ahead in the eighth when Willy Tavares leadoff double chased starter (and eventual winner) Jose Contreras in a one-run game.

Reliever Neal Cotts gave up a single to Lance Berkman and then struck out the next two batters before Jenks was summoned for a four-out save.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound pitchers first assignment was facing likely Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, Jenks first live batter in 15 days since pitching in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

It could have been a sweet moment of redemption for Bagwell, the longtime Astro who battled back from shoulder surgery this season to play in his first World Series game.

Instead, the magic belonged to Jenks supercharged right arm.

The 24-year-old threw Bagwell a steady diet of fastballs blowing a 100-mph third strike past Bagwell to kill the rally.

Game 1 had been advertised as a pitchers duel between likely Hall of Famer Roger Clemens and Chicagos second-half ace, Contreras. Instead, the two barely faced each other and when they did, the results werent pretty.

Clemens labored for two innings before leaving with a left hamstring strain, something that has bothered him after tweaking it in a start Sept. 3. He was listed as day-to-day, so it is unknown whether the 43-year-old right-hander would pitch Game 5 if necessary.

Leading up to last nights game, Astros manager Phil Garner and Clemens both said that he wasn't pitching with pain. That changed in the cool Chicago air.

Clemens had to throw 54 pitches to record six outs his shortest start since he lasted one inning on June 14, 2000.

It was his shortest postseason start since home plate umpire Terry Cooney ejected him for arguing in the second inning of Game 4 of the 1990 American League Championship Series.

At least that time he had no choice but to leave. On this one, Clemens left leg forced him out and may have affected his performance on the mound.

He was charged with three runs on four hits, including Jermaine Dyes bases-empty homer in the first that gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.

The Astros bounced back in the second when Mike Lamb crushed a Contreras pitch 405 feet for a 1-1 tie.

Clemens gave it right back in the second, a two-run inning that was set up by a nice piece of hitting by Aaron Rowand.

Carl Everett singled to start the inning and then broke toward second on a hit-and-run. Rowand neatly pushed a single into the hole on the right side, allowing Everett to move to third.

A.J. Pierzynski then bunted down the first-base line, and Everett broke for home as soon as Lamb committed a force throw to second base. Everett scored safely to break the tie. A batter later, Juan Uribe doubled for a 3-1 Chicago lead.

And the stunning battle of unheralded offenses continued into the third, when Berkman doubled to right to score two for a 3-3 tie.

From that point, Contreras settled down at least until the seventh. He retired 10 of the next 11 batters before hitting two of the first three with pitches to lead off the seventh.

For the third time in the game, though, third baseman Joe Crede, who had homered in the fourth against Wandy Rodriguez to give Chicago a 4-3 lead, came up huge.

With two outs and runners on first and third, Crede made a diving stop of Craig Biggios grounder and threw him out to end the inning. He made a similar play in the sixth with a runner on third and one out to help kill a Houston rally.

Contreras left in the eighth after giving up a leadoff double to Willy Tavares. It was Tavares second leadoff double in consecutive at-bats.

Berkman greeted Cotts with a single to put runners at first and third, but Cotts rebounded to get Morgan Ensberg and Lamb on swinging strikeouts.

Guillen summoned Jenks to face designated hitter Jeff Bagwell, who struck out swinging to end the threat.

The White Sox also had other chances to score, but twice they hit into inning-ending double plays.

The sellout crowd of 41,206, watching the first World Series game in Chicago since 1959, was energized on a brisk night. The fans brought heavy coats and their senses of humor.

During the seventh-inning stretch, some fans held a banner that proclaimed the White Sox 1919 American League Champions, a reference to the infamous Black Sox team that threw the World Series that year.

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