ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- At long last, the Chicago White Sox seem
to have figured out how to make it back to the World Series: Great
pitching and big home runs, with lucky breaks from the umps
Freddy Garcia became the latest White Sox ace to pitch a gem,
Paul Konerko homered in the first inning for the second straight
night and Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-2 Saturday to take
a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series.
A checked swing in the first inning, a catcher's interference
call that wasn't made in the second and a pickoff play in the fifth
all went against Los Angeles.
Seeking its first World Series title since 1917 and its first
appearance since 1959, Chicago can wrap up the AL pennant on Sunday
night, when Jose Contreras pitches against Paul Byrd in a rematch
of Game 1 starters.
"I don't think I have the words to describe what that city is
going to be like if we're able to pull that off," White Sox
leadoff man Scott Podsednik said.
Garcia pitched a six-hitter, following up on Mark Buehrle's
five-hitter and Jon Garland's four-hitter. The White Sox became the
first team to pitch three straight complete games in the postseason
since the New York Mets' Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman
in the first three games of the 1973 NLCS against Cincinnati.
"From the first day of the playoffs the pitching always has
been good," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
A.J. Pierzynski also homered for the White Sox, his third of the
postseason. That was more than enough offense for Chicago -- its
pitchers have given up just eight runs in the series and 17 in
seven postseason games.
While the Windy City team found its power stroke on the West
Coast, some of Los Angeles' leading lights have flamed out:
Vladimir Guerrero, the 2004 AL MVP, is hitting .063 (1-for-16),
with cleanup hitter Garret Anderson at .133 (2-for-15) and Bengie
Molina at .154 (2-for-13). The trio have combined for three RBIs
and Guerrero, who grounded out four times, was repeatedly booed.
But the crowd of 44,857 concentrated its loudest jeers on the
With two on in the first, Konerko checked his swing on a 2-2
pitch in the dirt, and first-base umpire Ed Rapuano ruled he didn't
go around. Konerko, whose two-run homer sparked Chicago on Friday,
deposited Ervin Santana's next offering into the left-field seats
for a 3-0 lead.
Los Angeles closed to 3-1 in the second on Molina's soft RBI
single and had runners at the corners with one out when Steve
Finley pulled the ball between first and second. Pointing toward
the plate as he ran up the first-base line, Finley claimed
Pierzynski's mitt nicked his bat.
"It might of just nicked it," Pierzynski said. "It was so
loud, the umpire couldn't hear it."
But plate umpire Ron Kulpa didn't call it, and Chicago turned an
inning-ending double play, with shortstop Juan Uribe's relay just
beating Finley to the bag. Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Finley
argued in vain, though a replay appeared to show the bat hit the
"It was big," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
After Scot Shields relieved in the fifth, his pickoff attempt
appeared to beat Podsednik at first. Rapuano ruled the runner slid
in ahead of Darin Erstad's tag. Scioscia, in the dugout, shook his
Podsednik swiped second and scored on Carl Everett's two-out
single for a 6-2 lead.
Chicago has gotten most of the breaks since Game 2, when a
disputed call on a Pierzynski strikeout that would have ended the
ninth inning gave the White Sox a runner who wound up scoring for a
series-tying victory. The crowd gave a mock cheer in the eighth
when Pierzynski swung and missed a ball in the dirt for strike
three, Molina tagged him and Kulpa signaled out.
Garcia pitched for the first time since the division series
clinched against Boston on Oct. 7 and the first time since his
daughter Sophia was born Wednesday. He needed just eight pitches to
get his first four outs.
On Friday, the White Sox needed just 12 pitches to take a 3-0
lead against John Lackey. It took them 18 to do so against Santana,
who pitched the Angels to victory in the AL West clincher and a
Game 5 triumph over the New York Yankees on Monday.
With the temperature 67 -- 22 degrees cooler than Friday --
Podsednik opened by working out an eight-pitch walk against
Santana. After a pitchout, the 22-year-old rookie hit Tadahito
Iguchi on the left elbow. Jermaine Dye's flyout moved up the
runners, and Podsednik hit his fourth homer of the postseason.
Everett's RBI single in the fourth made it 4-1 against Santana,
who allowed six runs -- five earned -- in 4 1/3 innings. He gave up
three hits -- two of them were homers -- and three walks.
Joe Crede added a two-run single in the eighth against Esteban
White Sox starters were winless in six previous Game 4s,
including the 1919 World Series, when Ed Cicotte allowed a pair of
unearned runs in a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati. Two years later, Cicotte
was among eight "Black Sox" banned by baseball for life for
throwing the Series. ... Seaver's complete game was 8 1/3 innings --
he lost 2-1 on Johnny Bench's ninth-inning homer. ... Angels LHP
Jason Christiansen, who is not on the ALCS roster, pitched batting