Whitewash: Sox sweep

Chicago wins 1st Series since 1917 with another nail-biting victory

White Sox 1, Astros 0

World Series


HOUSTON -- The Chicago White Sox captured their first World Series title since 1917 last night, defeating the Houston Astros, 1-0, to complete a four-game sweep.

Astros closer Brad Lidge allowed a two-out, run-scoring single to White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye in the eighth inning for the game's only run.

The White Sox swept the series, but it was not exactly in dominating fashion, as they earned three one-run victories after a two-run win in Game 1.

Regardless, they joined the 1999 New York Yankees as the only teams to go through the postseason with one loss since the playoffs expanded in 1995.

The Astros, who began 2005 losing 30 of their first 45 games, had made a season of overcoming difficult odds.

But last night was different. This was a three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby kind of odds. This was Paris Hilton winning an Oscar kind of odds. This was Rafael Palmeiro winning the Congressional Medal of Honor kind of odds.

The Astros were down three games to none - a deficit never overcome in the 100 previous World Series. Teams had taken a 3-0 lead 21 previous times; 18 of those ended in four games.

And there were other obstacles for the Astros. They were coming off a demoralizing 14-inning defeat in Game 3 that ended yesterday morning at 2:20 a.m. EDT. They had batted just .225 with runners in scoring position in the first three losses.

And they finally were without an ace on the mound.

So much had been made of Houston's Big Three: Roy Oswalt, the hottest starter on the planet, and Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, big-game pitchers with the New York Yankees who came home to bring a title to Houston.

This was supposed to be their World Series.

But none made it out of the seventh inning. The trio combined to allow 10 runs in 14 innings (6.43 ERA) in the three defeats.

Houston had to turn to Brandon Backe, a 27-year-old with a 4.76 regular-season ERA, and a guy whom the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays once felt was expendable.

He, too, grew up around Houston as an Astros fan. He understands what this meant to a city that had never witnessed a World Series in 44 seasons.

"Just think if you had a high school football team in a small town, they pretty much would treat it the same way," Backe said. "But it's on a bigger stage."

He knew everybody in his world would be watching. His family, his neighbors, his high school buddies.

"No doubt about it, they're going to be at the bar watching TV and having some beer," Backe said "I've got a great group of friends. ... It's just something that I know they'll be doing. They'll have their eyes fixed on the TV and their lips fixed to a mug."

He gave them something to toast: an absolutely dominating performance in a wonderful pitchers' duel with Chicago's Freddy Garcia.

Backe fell into an unhittable groove in the fourth inning, when he allowed a leadoff single and then struck out the side on three, nasty two-strike sliders that started at the batters' knees and ended up drilling for oil in West Texas.

Backe hadn't pitched in 10 days - since he allowed one run in a no-decision in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series. It didn't matter. He gave up five hits, walked none and struck out seven. He didn't allow two runners on base until the seventh - perhaps his most important inning.

With two outs and a runner on first, Joe Crede stroked a double off the left-field wall, but runner Aaron Rowand slowed around second momentarily - likely because outfielder Lance Berkman faked the catch - and had to stop at third.

Backe struck out Juan Uribe on another nasty slider to end the inning - and his outing. He was lifted for pinch hitter Jeff Bagwell in the bottom of the seventh of a scoreless game.

The move backfired when Bagwell grounded out weakly and Lidge allowed a run in the top of the eighth.


Series champions

2005-Chicago (AL) 4, Houston (NL) 0

2004-Boston (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 0

2003-Florida (NL) 4, New York (AL) 2

2002-Anaheim (AL) 4, San Francisco (NL) 3

2001-Arizona (NL) 4, New York (AL) 3

2000-New York (AL) 4, New York (NL) 1

1999-New York (AL) 4, Atlanta (NL) 0

1998-New York (AL) 4, San Diego (NL) 0

1997-Florida (NL) 4, Cleveland (AL) 3

1996-New York (AL) 4, Atlanta (NL) 2

1995-Atlanta (NL) 4, Cleveland (AL) 2

1994-No series

1993-Toronto (AL) 4, Philadelphia (NL) 2

1992-Toronto (AL) 4, Atlanta (NL) 2

1991-Minnesota (AL) 4, Atlanta (NL) 3

1990-Cincinnati (NL) 4, Oakland (AL) 0

1989-Oakland (AL) 4, San Francisco (NL) 0

1988-Los Angeles (NL) 4, Oakland (AL) 1

1987-Minnesota (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 3

1986-New York (NL) 4, Boston (AL) 3

1985-Kansas City (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 3

1984-Detroit (AL) 4, San Diego (NL) 1

1983-Orioles (AL) 4, Philadelphia (NL) 1

1982-St. Louis (NL) 4, Milwaukee (AL) 3

1981-Los Angeles (NL) 4, New York (AL) 2

1980-Philadelphia (NL) 4, Kansas City (AL) 2

1979-Pittsburgh (NL) 4, Orioles (AL) 3

1978-New York (AL) 4, Los Angeles (NL) 2

1977-New York (AL) 4, Los Angeles (NL) 2

1976-Cincinnati (NL) 4, New York (AL) 0

1975-Cincinnati (NL) 4, Boston (AL) 3

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