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Chicago Socks It to Boston Early, Often

Propelled by a five-run first inning, the White Sox finish with five home runs in a 14-2 rout, their first postseason victory at home since 1959.

October 05, 2005|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO — There was a moment in the third inning Tuesday afternoon when the people in the stands, going on 50 years since they witnessed a home postseason win by the Chicago White Sox, chanted and applauded and demanded that Paul Konerko wave back.

So Konerko climbed the stairs, turned and acknowledged their recognition of his home run, their wait, and their relief.

Several innings later, Konerko said he leaned toward a teammate and confessed, "I felt real good about that curtain call. It felt great. Then, seven curtain calls later, it wasn't so special. They were handing them out all day."

The face of these White Sox, if not their mouth, Konerko laughed at what was a glorious afternoon for a franchise that hadn't seen many lately. They beat the Boston Red Sox, 14-2, at U.S. Cellular Field in the first game of a best-of-five American League division series. Game 2 is here tonight.

White Sox starter Jose Contreras gave up two runs in 7 2/3 innings for his ninth win in nine starts since mid-August, and he was backed by five home runs, two by his catcher, A.J. Pierzynski.

"Yeah," Konerko said, "it was a great day."

Eighty-eight years after their last World Series title, the White Sox inched toward a shot at another. Few could appreciate that like the Red Sox, who won for the first time in 86 years last season but were unable to throw a fastball past a White Sox hitter Tuesday.

The Red Sox won their final eight games of the last postseason, starting three games down to the New York Yankees in the American League championship series. It's a lot to ask of momentum, roughly 11 months later, which became apparent a couple of dozen pitches into the third postseason start of Matt Clement's career.

The White Sox scored five runs in the first inning, the last three on Pierzynski's opposite-field home run, and the Red Sox were never again closer than four runs.

By the final curtain call, the White Sox had 11 hits, had walked three times and were hit by three pitches, and left their first runners on base in their last at-bat, the eighth inning, in their first home postseason win since 1959. Even Scott Podsednik, the White Sox leadoff hitter who hadn't homered in more than a year, did. Pierzynski drove in four runs, and Podsednik and Juan Uribe each drove in three.

"I have no excuses," Clement said. "I was bad. They took advantage of a guy who was struggling."

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona, who had talked for two days about his rested pitching staff, appeared intent on keeping it that way. Clement, who struck out none, gave up seven hits and hit two batters and still was allowed to pitch into the fourth inning. Uribe hit the last pitch Clement threw -- an 0-and-2 breaking ball -- for a home run, giving the White Sox an 8-2 lead.

Francona used three relievers anyway, but held back closer Mike Timlin and rookie Jon Papelbon, in case they are needed behind David Wells tonight.

"We wanted to get him further in the game," Francona said, adding later, "It fell apart in a hurry."

Clement's demise left a lot of stress-free innings for Contreras, who had six strikeouts, walked none, and held the first four hitters in the Red Sox order -- Johnny Damon, Edgar Renteria, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez -- to three hits and no runs batted in in 16 at-bats. Contreras, the former Yankee who defected from Cuba three years ago, had an 11.67 earned-run average in seven previous appearances against the Red Sox. He won his only start against them during the regular season, however, and on Tuesday allowed very few good swings, mainly because of his varying arm angles and off-speed pitches.

"We saw a much more mature pitcher," Francona said. "I know the run he's been on, and today we found out why."

They'll all start over today, the left-handed Wells against White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, but there was still much to be held from Tuesday. After all, it's not every day you win a playoff game in your own ballpark. Not on this side of this city.

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