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2005 World Series
Drought swept aside
White Sox end 88-year wait with 1-0 Game 4 win
By MARC TOPKIN
Published October 27, 2005
The Chicago White Sox celebrate after winning World Series against the Houston Astros.
HOUSTON - The White Sox had waited 88 years to win another World Series.
So who can blame them for being in a hurry?
The Sox continued their express El ride to their first championship since 1917, beating the Astros 1-0 on Wednesday to complete a four-game sweep and finish the postseason with eight consecutive wins and a stunning 11-1 record.
"I hope everyone's safe back in Chicago," Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "But I also hope they're partying like it's 1917."
The Sox join the 1999 Yankees as the only teams to get through three rounds of playoffs with one loss. All time, only five others have been as dominant in October, topped by the 1976 Reds, who were 7-0.
The White Sox's lengthy quest has not captivated the country the way the Red Sox did last year in winning their first title since 1918 - TV ratings bordering on record low seem to prove that - but they certainly have captured the hearts of Chicago fans.
At least those not wearing Cubs shirts.
The White Sox had thrown a World Series (in the 1919 Black Sox scandal) since they last won one in 1917, with the 88-year drought the second-longest in Series history. The only team that has gone longer is the Cubs, whose ritual of waiting 'til next year has stretched 97 years since their last title in 1908.
"To all the fans of Chicago - south side, north side, west side, this is for you," Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said during the trophy presentation. "This might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I hope not."
The White Sox were the 22nd team to take a 3-0 Series lead, and the 22nd to celebrate a championship. They are the 19th to complete the four-game sweep, following the 2004 Red Sox, who did it to the Cardinals. The other three needed to go only to a fifth game to wrap it up.
"It's been a long time since they've been in the World Series and won, so it means a lot not only to us in the clubhouse but to the organization and the fans and the city," said rightfielder Jermaine Dye, who was named Series MVP. "It's just a great feeling."
The Game 4 victory wasn't quite as dramatic as their 14-inning victory Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the longest Series game ever, but, as the first Series game since 1991 to be scoreless through seven innings, it had its moments.
The key one came in the eighth, after Astros manager Phil Garner made the questionable decision to pinch-hit for starter Brandon Backe, the ex-Devil Ray who had thrown 100 pitches over seven scoreless innings, and bring in beleaguered closer Brad Lidge.
"He pitched very well, but I felt like Lidge was strong," Garner said. "He told me he was, and I felt like when he came in he was still throwing the ball good. I didn't want to do it, but you've got to try to put a run on the board."
Chicago pinch-hitter Willie Harris led off with a single, and the Sox showed the near-flawless execution that carried them to an AL-best 99 wins and most of their 11 in the postseason.
Scott Podsednik advanced Harris to second with a perfect bunt. Pinch-hitter Carl Everett moved him to third with a right-side grounder. And Dye knocked him in by hitting a Lidge slider for a ground-ball single up the middle.
After seven strong innings from Freddy Garcia, Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts navigated the eighth. Rookie closer Bobby Jenks did the rest, allowing a leadoff single but getting a huge hand from shortstop Juan Uribe, who dived into the stands to snare Chris Burke's popup for the second out.
When Orlando Palmeiro grounded to short and Paul Konerko grabbed Uribe's throw for the final out, the Sox gathered on the pitcher's mound for a celebration that lasted for hours, the players coming back onto the field with champagne, cigars and souvenir T-shirts.
"It's an amazing feeling seeing them like little kids jumping back and forth," Sox second-year manager Ozzie Guillen said. "With the birth of my kids, I think this is the most wonderful day of my life."
The Devil Rays may be under new management, but some of their old mistakes are big parts of the Series.
Wednesday morning, it was ex-Ray Geoff Blum, who was let go after a miserable 2004 season, hitting a 14th-inning homer to give the Sox a 7-5 victory.
Wednesday night, it was Backe, whom they traded to Houston to get Blum, delivering the kind of performance, frankly, that the Rays could use: seven shutout innings.
Backe struck out seven, including five straight over the fourth and fifth innings, one shy of the Series record. But his biggest came to end the seventh when the Sox had their most dangerous threat with men on second and third.
After Uribe swung feebly at strike three, Backe practically jumped off the mound, pumping his fist, kicking his heels and sprinting toward the dugout. That was his 100th and final pitch as Jeff Bagwell pinch-hit for him and grounded out.
"I can't say anything about it; he's the manager," Backe said. "I told (Garner) if he needed me to go out there again, I had it. I threw 200 pitches in high school and that's kind of what I was on, that emotional get-me-through-the-next-inning type of attitude. I just wanted to do whatever it took to win today and have another game."
Reinsdorf said the Red Sox ending their 86-year drought in 2004 gave him hope.
"I thought about that last year when the Red Sox won, that maybe our time was coming, too," Reinsdorf said. "Who knows? Maybe next year the Cubs will win, too."