Sox take game by storm

Podsednik's HR in ninth gives Chicago 2-0 lead

White Sox 7, Astros 6

World Series / Game 2

October 24, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

Chicago This time, the Chicago White Sox needed more than just a controversial umpiring call to win a Game 2.

They needed speedy outfielder Scott Podsednik to hit an uncharacteristic game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the White Sox a 7-6 victory over the Astros and a 2-0 World Series lead as both teams head for Houston.

It was just the 14th walk-off homer in World Series history, and it came courtesy a slap hitter.

Houston closer Brad Lidge, who had allowed Albert Pujols" game-winning blast in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, took the loss.

Podsednik's heroics capped an amazing inning and a half in which the White Sox took a lead on a grand slam by Paul Konerko and then lost it on a two-run, two-out single in the ninth by Houston pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino.

Down to their last out in the ninth, the Astros bounced back from what looked like another deflating and controversial White Sox comeback.

Chicago's 24-year-old closer Bobby Jenks, a hero in Saturday's game, blew the save in a wobbly top of the ninth. With runners on second and third and the White Sox leading by two, Vizcaino slapped a single to left to score Jeff Bagwell and Chris Burke, whose left hand touched home plate moments before the tag from catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

That moment swung the momentum back to Houston, which was reeling from a seventh inning that featured another questionable umpiring call.

With runners on first and second and two outs and Chicago trailing by two runs, Astros reliever Dan Wheeler threw a high-and- tight, full-count fastball to White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye.

Dye started to swing and attempted to pull back, as the ball appeared to hit the barrel of his bat for a foul ball.

But home plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that the pitch hit Dye, who jogged to first to load the bases.

Astros manager Phil Garner argued futilely and then changed pitchers, bringing in right-hander Chad Qualls to face Konerko.

The Astros took a two-run lead in the fifth, courtesy of a couple of inches. Houston catcher Brad Ausmus led off with a hard bouncer down the third - base line. Joe Crede, whose impressive range has been on display this postseason, dove, but the ball nicked off his glove and squirted into the outfield.

Had Crede not touched it, Ausmus would have had a routine single to left. Instead he ended up at second. He moved to third when speedy Willy Taveras singled to deep short - a ball Crede nearly snagged before letting up so that shortstop Juan Uribe would have an unimpeded play. Taveras beat out Uribe's throw, setting up a clutch two-run double by Lance Berkman for a 4-2 Astros lead.

Neither Houston starter Andy Pettitte nor Chicago's Mark Buehrle was at his best on the chilly, rain-soaked night in front of 41,432 drenched fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

The difference between the two was that Buehrle cracked ever so slightly in the immense pressure cooker while the October-tested Pettitte wiggled out of his messes.

Case in point: That fifth inning.

A fortuitous bounce here or there, and Buehrle would have escaped damage. Instead, he gave up a key, two-out hit. Meanwhile, Pettitte made his own breaks.

Uribe started the fifth with a double to left. After a fly out, Tadahito Iguchi hit a hard comebacker to Pettitte, who gloved it, twirled and caught Uribe straying too far off second base.

Pettitte ran toward a bewildered Uribe, then threw to second for the out. While facing the next batter, Pettitte picked off Iguchi at first. Three at-bats, two base runners, no runs scored. Two big plays by Pettitte, who has made more postseason starts (34) than anyone in baseball history.

His composure showed again in the sixth, when he stranded runners at second and third by inducing an inning-ending popup.

Pettitte lasted six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs. He left with the lead, putting him in a position to become the all-time leader in postseason with 15 victories.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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