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Podsednik's walk-off homer lifts Chicago past Houston

CHICAGO (AP) -- One saved the game, the other won it.

Two electrifying home runs.

Two more wins and the Chicago White Sox can call themselves
World Series champions for the first time since 1917.

When Paul Konerko's seventh-inning grand slam wasn't enough,
Scott Podsednik homered off Brad Lidge in the ninth Sunday night to
give Chicago a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Houston Astros and a
2-0 World Series lead.

"I don't think anyone in the ballpark was thinking about me
hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Podsednik said.

One home run came from a big bopper, who hit 40 during the
regular season. The other from Podsednik, who didn't get his first
of the year until the postseason opener against Boston.

"I'm pretty crazy, so to speak, a little superstitious,"
Podsednik said. "I'm using something different up there just about
every week."

Konerko homered on Chad Qualls' first pitch after yet another
questionable umpiring call, this one a hit batter on Jermaine Dye,
who admitted Dan Wheeler's pitch struck his bat. Konerko's homer
erased a 4-2 deficit, sparking the crowd of 41,432 to life on a
drizzly, dreary night and capped a momentous week.

"He's got nasty stuff, that guy," Konerko said. "He threw it
exactly where I was looking."

A week earlier, Konerko was selected MVP of the AL Championship
Series win over the Los Angeles Angels. Two days later, his wife
gave birth to their first child, Nicholas.

It was Konerko's fifth postseason homer and the first Series
slam since the Yankees' Tino Martinez in 1998.

"It's the second-best feeling I've had all week," he said.
"The baby born Tuesday night ... that's first for the week."

When the Series resumes in Houston on Tuesday night, Roy Oswalt
pitches for the Astros against Jon Garland.

"Well, we're not in a good spot," Houston manager Phil Garner
said. "They can't do anything wrong."

Closer Bobby Jenks, who earned the Game 1 save after not
pitching for 14 days, couldn't work his magic two nights in a row.

Jose Vizcaino, pinch-hitting for Adam Everett with two outs in
the ninth, reached the burly reliever for a two-run, opposite-field
single to left and Chris Burke just beat Podsednik's on-target
throw to score the tying run, slapping the plate with his hand.

That paved the way for Podsednik, perhaps the most unlikely hero.

He didn't have any home runs in 507 regular-season at-bats.

"We're going to get this win," Konerko recalled of the mood in
the dugout. "I didn't think we thought it would be that quick or
by a home run by him."

Podsednik came up with one out in the ninth against Lidge, who
hadn't pitched since losing Game 5 of the NL championship series
against St. Louis, when he gave up a mammoth three-run homer to
Albert Pujols in the ninth that teammates joked rose to airplane
cruising altitude.

This one wasn't as long, but it was just as damaging.

Podsednik lofted a 2-1 pitch to right-center field, and players
and fans craned to see whether it would clear the fence. When it
did, for the 14th game-ending homer in Series history, Chicago
players poured out of the dugout to greet Podsednik at the plate.

Lidge gave up just five homers during the regular season.

"I'm frustrated by it, but I'm not changing a darn thing," he
said. "I'm ready to get out there as quickly as possible."

Andy Pettitte had put his hometown team in position for its
first World Series win, leaving after six innings with a 4-2 lead
built by Lance Berkman's three RBIs and Morgan Ensberg's solo
homer.

Chicago pressured reliever Dan Wheeler on Juan Uribe's one-out
double in the seventh and Tadahito Iguchi's walk, and the White Sox
loaded the bases when Dye was awarded first base on a 3-2 pitch
that umpires ruled hit his hand. Houston disputed the call and
replays appeared to show the ball striking his bat.

"He thought at the time that he made the right call and he
thought it in his heart," baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said
after speaking with plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

If it had been ruled a foul ball, the count would have remained
full on Dye. But he took first, Qualls relieved and he left his
first pitch over the plate. Konerko turned on it, and it went deep
into the left-field bleachers.

"I'm not going to tell him I fouled it off," Dye said. "Just
go to first and, hopefully, we get a big hit and we did."

It was 45 degrees when the game began, weather more suited to
football than baseball. While rain held off in the early going, it
began again in the fifth, just before Berkman doubled down the
left-field line to break a 2-2 tie. For the rest of the game, many
fans wore slickers and held up umbrellas in an attempt to stay dry.

Making his record 34th postseason start, Pettitte needed 54
pitches to get through the first three innings. He allowed two runs
in the second on Joe Crede's opposite-field bloop RBI single to
right -- his 10th postseason RBI -- and Uribe's popup to short right
that bounced off the glove of backtracking second baseman Craig
Biggio and fell for a run-scoring fielder's choice.

Ensberg led off the second with his first homer since Sept. 20
at Pittsburgh, and gave Houston its first lead of the Series. Willy
Taveras tripled into the right-field corner in the third and made
it 2-2 on Berkman's sacrifice fly.

"It's a tough loss," Biggio said. "We've been through a lot
of adversity all season long. We've been able to bounce back and
come back."
Game notes
Florida's Alex Gonzalez hit the previous game-ending Series
homer in Game 4 two years ago. ... The game began 7 minutes later,
the first rain delay at the start of a Series game since Game 3 in
1993 at Philadelphia began 1:12 late. ... Commissioner Bud Selig
didn't take his front-row seat until after the first inning. ... In
the fourth, Pettitte pitched Houston's first 1-2-3 inning of the
Series.