GAME 4 at Houston
WHITE SOX 1, ASTROS 0
They had lived and even prospered on the thinnest of margins all season; so the story of the 2005 White Sox wrapped with a scriptwriter-approved ending. It was a minute past 11 central time when a ball hit by Orlando Palmeiro of Houston bounded over Jenks's outstretched glove and bounced as softly as a half-wedge shot behind the mound. Now it was a race to first base between Palmeiro and the baseball, which Uribe would have to quickly scoop from the grass and throw to Konerko at first base.
Eighty-eight years of waiting for a championship had come down to this moment as the ball flew across the diamond--in a 1-0 game with the tying run at second and desperation in the collective gasp from the Minute Maid Park fans.
"If we won 10-0, it wouldn't seem right," Konerko said. "I was actually waiting for them to tie it up. Going into extra innings seemed to make sense. I caught the ball, and I knew I had him out, but I double-checked with the umpire. I didn't want to be caught celebrating too soon."
Palmeiro's foot was only inches from the bag when the ball popped into Konerko's glove. Umpire Gary Cederstrom pumped his right first to indicate the out, and by the slimmest of margins in the closest of games, all hell officially broke loose in the infield, if it didn't freeze over elsewhere.
Only one other team in the 101-year history of the World Series had clinched the championship by winning 1-0 away from home: the 1962 New York Yankees. What's more, the victory was the 20th time the White Sox won a road game by one run, trailing only the major league record of 22 (postseason included) of the 1970 Orioles. "Pitching and defense," Guillen said. "That's how we built this team."
Said Pierzynski after the clincher, "This game was like every game we played all year. I knew if we could keep the game close, something good would happen and we'd find a way to score."
White Sox starter Freddy Garcia dueled for seven innings with Houston starter Brandon Backe. Garcia left six Astros on base, including three to end the sixth when he whiffed Lane. Backe left five Sox on base, four in scoring position.
Garner removed Backe for a pinch hitter with two outs and nobody on in the seventh, then turned the game over to Lidge. Guillen chose Willie Harris, a guy with one at bat in three weeks, to pinch-hit for Garcia. Harris fell behind 0 and 2; hitters batted only .103 against Lidge in 87 at bats this year after falling into such a hole. But Harris watched two balls to even the count, then smacked a 97-mph fastball into leftfield for a single.
Having bunted more than any team in the American League, the White Sox turned to that tactic in their time of need. Podsednik dropped a splendid bunt to move Harris to second. Harris then advanced to third as pinch-hitter Carl Everett grounded out. Then Dye stepped into the batter's box.