ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Given a big lead, Freddy Garcia could
afford to simply throw strikes.
Unhittable strikes, mostly.
Freddy Garcia was perfect through seven and two-thirds innings and Ben Sheets through six in their respective wins on Wednesday afternoon. It was only the second time in the last 15 years that two pitchers carried perfectos to the seventh inning on the same day. Shawn Estes and Odalis Perez did it in 2002.• For more Elias Says, click here
Garcia pitched perfect ball until Adam Kennedy singled with two
outs in the eighth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-0 Wednesday."I knew I had a no-hitter going, but I was trying not to think
about it and keep making my pitches," Garcia said."I've been facing those guys for a long time, so I know they're
aggressive and they like to swing the bat. Kennedy hit a good
pitch, so there was nothing I could do about it. But who doesn't
want to throw a no-hitter?"Garcia (14-9) retired the first 23 batters before Kennedy
cleanly lined the 100th pitch to center field on a 3-2 count. The
only other time Garcia went to a three-ball count before that was
in the seventh, when Vladimir Guerrero hit an inning-ending
grounder on a 3-1 pitch."I was expecting anything at that point," Kennedy said. "I
didn't think he would groove a fastball. He didn't this time, and I
just tried not to do too much with it. Once the game got a little
out of hand and they got a good grip on it, it wasn't that big of a
deal. You just start to think about trying to get some momentum for
tomorrow."Garcia came close to the first perfect game in the majors since
Randy Johnson did it for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004. There
have been only 14 regular-season perfect games in the majors since
1900."I thought he was going to get it. I thought it was going to
happen," Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said. "When he got
through the seventh, I really felt he was going to do it. I think
everybody was a little heartbroken. I've never been a part of one,
so you were just hoping to see it. And he had a perfect game going,
so that's a little different than a no-hitter. So everybody's
dialed in."Ahead 7-0 by the fourth and in control the whole way, Garcia
(14-9) struck out three and walked none in eight innings. Neal Cotts pitched a perfect ninth to complete the one-hitter."He stayed out of the hitting zone," said the Angels' Chone Figgins, who broke up a no-hit bid by Giants rookie Matt Cain on
June 19 with a two-out single in the eighth inning. "When you're
keeping the ball down like that, it's tough to hit."Pitching just seven days after Florida Marlins rookie Anibal
Sanchez ended a major league record drought of 2½ years between
no-hitters, Garcia was staked to an 8-0 lead before he gave up his
first hit."One thing about Freddy, he's as relaxed as they come,"
Konerko said. "I mean, knowing Freddy, with the score the way it
was, he was probably like, 'Ah, the heck with it. Let me just throw
some balls over the middle of the plate.'"He has kind of the attitude that, 'Hey, I'm out here to get
the win and I don't care about my personal numbers,' which is a
great attitude to have for a pitcher. But we wanted him to go for
it, and he did go for it," he said.The White Sox moved within 1½ games of Minnesota in the AL
wild-card race. The Angels began the day on the fringe of the AL
West and wild-card chases.Garcia improved to 14-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 regular-season
career starts against the Angels. He also had a complete-game
victory against them in Game 4 of last year's AL Championship
Series. The Angels have scored just one run in 24 innings this year
against the two-time All-Star."He's had a history of doing well against us," Kennedy said.
"He mixes his pitches up well and he's been fortunate enough to
pitch a lot of times with a decent-sized lead, which makes a good
pitcher even better."Garcia was attempting to become the first White Sox pitcher to
throw a no-hitter since Wilson Alvarez beat Baltimore 7-0 on Aug.
11, 1991. Garcia, Alvarez and Sanchez all were born in Venezuela.Paul Konerko was 4-for-4 with two RBI. Jim Thome and Jermaine
Dye also drove in two runs each for the White Sox, who won the
season series 6-3 against the team they beat in the AL championship
series last year.Dye chased rookie Joe Saunders (5-3) with a bases-loaded two run
double that increased Chicago's lead to 5-0. J.C. Romero faced one
batter and gave up a sacrifice fly to Thome, which put him within
one RBI of his ninth season with 100 or more. Konerko capped the
four-run inning.Joe Crede opened the scoring in the second with an RBI double,
and the White Sox got two more in the third on Tadahito Iguchi's
run-scoring double and Thome's two-out single.
Dye, last year's World Series MVP, was 0-for-11 in this
series with four strikeouts before hitting his two-run double. ...
Angels pitchers did not allow a home run in this series against an
offense that leads the majors with 213. ... Garcia is 8-1 against
the Angels in Anaheim.