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Chicago Puts Boston in a Familiar Hole

Iguchi's three-run home run after a Red Sox error helps the White Sox win, 5-4, for a 2-0 lead in the division series.

October 06, 2005|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO — The Boston Red Sox are at the edge of elimination, about where we discovered them going on a year ago, all ratty and full of spirit.

And the Chicago White Sox are on the verge of the American League championship series, a win away, headed to Boston with visions of their first postseason series victory since 1917.

They beat the Red Sox, 5-4, on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, where a misplayed grounder, a prolonged inning and a two-out, three-run home run gave them a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five AL division series.

Near the end of a five-run fifth inning, which began with a 4-0 Red Sox lead, White Sox rookie Tadahito Iguchi drove David Wells' curveball into the left-field seats. Two batters earlier, Red Sox second baseman Tony Graffanino had failed to field a six-hop ground ball. A hurried double play would have ended the inning. A single out, and Scott Podsednik's subsequent pop-up, would have ended the inning.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 07, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball player's nationality -- An article in Thursday's Sports section about the American League division series game between the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox referred to White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi as being Taiwanese. He is Japanese.

Instead, with runners at first and third and two runs already in, Wells looped a 1-and-1 curveball to the middle of the strike zone, Iguchi swung and the Red Sox were again in the fix that did not finish them last year.

"We've been down that road before," center fielder Johnny Damon said.

Wells, spotted a four-run lead through three innings, lost for only the fourth time in 16 postseason starts over 26 postseason appearances. Left-hander Mark Buehrle pitched seven innings, gave up two singles after the third inning, and won his first postseason start. Angel giveaway Bobby Jenks pitched the last two innings for the save, his fastball reaching 100 mph on an eighth-inning pitch to Manny Ramirez.

Game 3 is Friday at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox began last season's October run of eight wins in eight games, eliminating the New York Yankees from three games back and then sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

It is the place where so many conversations led late Wednesday night, to the Red Sox's resilience, to the White Sox's attentiveness to it.

"Just another of those tough times we gotta go through," designated hitter David Ortiz said.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski looked out over the coming days, holding the White Sox's first 2-0 series lead in 88 years, smiled and said, "Now we got to go to Fenway and now the fun really starts."

The Red Sox will take the fifth inning with them, from four up to one down, from Graffanino's error to Iguchi's fortune. Through two games, Ortiz and Ramirez have one run batted in between them, and the Red Sox have not hit a home run, leaving the series to the likes of Pierzynski, who homered twice in Game 1, and Iguchi, who got the right pitch at the right time, and to the chance of a six-hopper ducking beneath the glove of a sure hand.

"All year I had been fooled by Wells' curves," the Taiwanese Iguchi said through an interpreter. "So I went out trying to hit it today and I'm happy it happened."

Acquired in a mid-season trade with the Kansas City Royals to replace the struggling Mark Bellhorn, Graffanino regretted his haste on the play that eventually brought Iguchi his chance. If the Red Sox lose the series, the ball that went through Tony Graffanino's legs will live below the ball that went through Bill Buckner's legs 19 years ago. But it will live.

"I just tried to come in hard and get rid of it quick," he said. "I just took my eye off it and missed it. There's no other way to look at it. I just missed it."

He approached Wells after the play, which left runners at first and third but the Red Sox still ahead, 4-2, and said he told him, "My bad. Pick me up and we'll get out of this inning."

Wells tapped him reassuringly.

"I feel bad," Wells said later. "I didn't pick him up....I didn't do it. I'm sure he feels bad, but I feel worse. You just have to regroup. It happened. Nothing we can do about it. Move on to the next game."

Said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona: "The comfort I have is our ability to play. We'll show up and play the next game. That's what's important."

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