Worth the wait: White Sox beat Astros in 14 innings

HOUSTON (AP) -- Ten, 11, 12, 13 innings. No one could break

Not the Chicago White Sox, who waited 46 years to get back to
the World Series. Not the Houston Astros, who've never been here

Finally, in the 14th inning, after 5 hours and 41 minutes,
former Astro Geoff Blum won the longest game in World Series
history with a tiebreaking, two-out solo homer, and Chicago beat
Houston 7-5 Wednesday morning to move within a win of a sweep and
its first title since 1917.

"It's the stuff dreams are made of," Blum said. "I've had
about a 100 of these at-bats in the backyard with my younger

Long after Chicago overcame a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the
fifth inning against Roy Oswalt and Jason Lane hit a tying double
for Houston in the eighth off Dustin Hermanson, Blum batted for the
first time in a World Series with two outs in the 14th and faced
Ezequiel Astacio, Houston's seventh pitcher.

With nearly all the fans remaining from the original crowd of
42,848 in Minute Maid Park, Blum sent a 2-0 pitch down the
right-field line, and the ball sailed over the wall.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was high enough to get out,"
Blum said. "I don't think I blinked or looked at anybody until I
made it [to] home plate and knew it was for real."

The White Sox picked up Blum from San Diego on July 31, right
before the trading deadline. A starter with Houston in 2002-03,
he's been mostly a backup since then and entered the game in the
13th as part of a double-switch. He's had quite a year -- his wife,
Kory, gave birth to triplets on May 3.

"I think it came to a head when the ball went out of the
ballpark," he said.

While Blum was circling the bases in joy, Houston manager Phil
Garner slammed a stool in the dugout.

"Unfortunately, that pitch got away from me," Astacio said.

Astacio allowed Chicago to load the bases on two infield singles
and a walk, then forced in a run by walking Chris Widger on a 3-2

Houston put runners at the corners in the bottom half against
winner Damaso Marte when Orlando Palmeiro walked with one out and
Brad Ausmus reached when shortstop Juan Uribe misplayed his two-out
grounder for an error.

Mark Buehrle, who pitched seven innings in Game 2 on Sunday
night, came in, Chicago's ninth pitcher and the 17th of the game,
both Series records.

Adam Everett then popped to shortstop for the final out at 1:20
a.m. local time. The previous longest game was 4:51 when the
Yankees beat the Mets in 12 innings in Game 1 in 2000. This matched
the longest by innings, a Babe Ruth complete game for the Boston
Red Sox against Brooklyn in 1914.

There were 482 pitches, 245 by the White Sox and 237 by the

"Who told me baseball was easy?" Astros owner Drayton McLane

Freddy Garcia tries to complete the sweep for Chicago on
Wednesday night, opposed by Brandon Backe. No team has ever
overcome a 3-0 World Series deficit, and only one major league team
has done it in any round of the postseason -- the Boston Red Sox in
last year's AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

"All three of these games -- up and down," Chicago catcher A.J.
Pierzynski said. "You think you're going to lose, you think you're
going to win. It's been incredible. It's been a crazy Series."

Houston, which got only one hit after the fourth inning,
stranded 15 runners. The Astros left the potential winning run at
third base in the ninth and at second base in the 10th and 11th.

"It's some pretty poor hitting, absolute rotten hitting,"
Garner said. "We might have played 40 innings and it didn't look
[like] we were going to get a runner across."

Houston escaped a two-on, two-outs jam in the 11th when Chad
Qualls retired pinch-hitter Timo Perez on a groundout and
eliminated possible trouble in the 13th when Scott Podsednik bunted
into a double play with no outs. Paul Konerko grounded into a
double play just before Blum's homer.

In the first World Series game played in the state of Texas, a
sellout crowd of 42,848 filled Minute Maid Park with plenty of
noise -- but less than the Astros had hoped for. Against the wishes
of the home team, Major League Baseball ordered the retractable
roof open for the game because the skies were cloudless and the
temperature a comfortable 61 degrees at game time. Houston wanted
the roof closed, to increase the decibels.

Oswalt, 3-0 in the postseason coming in, couldn't hold the 4-0
lead, allowing five runs in a 46-pitch fifth inning -- the most
pitches he's thrown in an inning in his career. He gave up five
runs, eight hits and five walks in six-plus innings, the most runs
he's allowed at home since the season opener against St. Louis on
April 5.

After giving up three runs in the first four innings, Jon
Garland pitched shutout ball for the next four. But for the second
straight game, Chicago's bullpen faltered.

Cliff Politte walked Morgan Ensberg with two outs in the eighth,
and left-hander Neal Cotts came in and walked Mike Lamb.

Instead of bringing in Bobby Jenks to face Lane, Chicago manager
Ozzie Guillen summoned Hermanson for his first appearance of the
postseason in order to save Jenks for extra innings. Lane drove a
1-2 pitch over the third-base bag for a tying double that put the
potential go-ahead run on third. Hermanson then got Ausmus to take
a called third strike.

Houston had a chance to win it in the ninth when Chris Burke
walked with one out against Orlando Hernandez, took third as El
Duque threw away a pickoff attempt for an error and stole third on
the next pitch. But Hernandez struck out Willy Taveras,
intentionally walked Lance Berkman, then struck out Ensberg to send
the game into extra innings.

Luis Vizcaino, in his first appearance since the regular-season
finale on Oct. 2, came in when Hernandez appeared to get hurt while
walking Palmeiro, who pinch hit leading off the 10th. After a
two-out walk -- Houston's fifth in two innings, Burke hit an
inning-ending comebacker. Hernandez left because of tightness in
his neck.

"To come out and lose again and to lose like this is
draining," Ausmus said.

Chicago had two on with two outs in the 11th after Podsednik's
leadoff single and stolen base, but Perez grounded out, and Houston
had two on with two outs in the bottom half when Jenks, who came in
to start the inning, retired Palmeiro on a grounder.

Berkman hit a run-scoring single back in the first, his sixth
RBI of the Series. Houston made it 3-0 in the third on RBI singles
by Biggio and Ensberg, unearned runs because Uribe's throw hit
Everett for an error during a rundown.

Lane hit a long home run to left-center in the fourth, and
fireworks went off beyond the train tracks high above the field.
But when the smoke cleared, the White Sox came back in the fifth on
Joe Crede's leadoff homer, RBI singles by Tadahito Iguchi and
Jermaine Dye, and Pierzynski's two-run double to center that rolled
up Tal's Hill, the 10-degree slope built as an homage to
Cincinnati's old Crosley Field.

"We have to forget this," Berkman said.

Game notes
The 43 players used by both teams also was a Series record,
as was the combined 30 runners left on base. ... Chicago is trying
to match the 1999 New York Yankees as the only teams to go through
the postseason with just one loss since the extra round of playoffs
was added in 1995. ... Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan threw out the
ceremonial first pitch. ... Houston's Roger Clemens, who left
Saturday's opener after two innings because of a left hamstring
injury, remains "penciled in" to start Game 5 Thursday.