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Central Division

East Division

Series Wrapup

Story

The St. Louis Cardinals compiled baseball’s best record for the second consecutive year in 2005, concluding the campaign with a mark of 100-62 that left them 11 games ahead of the runner-up Houston Astros in the N.L. Central.  The Astros’ 89-73 record earned them a spot in the playoffs as the senior circuit’s wild-card entry for the second straight time.

Once again the National League’s most well-balanced team, the Cardinals led the league with a team ERA of 3.49, and they also placed near the top of the circuit rankings in runs scored (805), team batting average (.270), team on-base percentage (.339), and team slugging average (.423).

The Cardinals’ deep starting rotation featured N.L. Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter, who finished the season with a record of 21-5, an ERA of 2.83, 213 strikeouts, 242 innings pitched, four shutouts, and a league-leading seven complete games.  Mark Mulder and Jeff Suppan each won 16 games, while Matt Morris posted 14 victories and Jason Marquis added another 13.

On offense, Jim Edmonds hit 29 homers, drove in 89 runs, and scored 88 others.  David Eckstein batted .294 and scored 90 runs.  Albert Pujols served as the driving force behind the Cardinals’ first-place finish, leading the league with 129 runs scored and placing among the leaders with 41 home runs, 117 runs batted in, a .330 batting average, 360 total bases, a .430 on-base percentage, and a .609 slugging average.  After earning a top-five finish in the N.L. MVP voting in each of the four previous seasons, Pujols captured league MVP honors for the first time.
    
Placing third in the balloting was Chicago’s Derrek Lee, who posted arguably the most impressive numbers of anyone in the league.  Although the Cubs finished fourth in the division, 21 games behind the first-place Cardinals, Lee had a monster season.  The slugging first baseman hit 46 homers, knocked in 107 runs, scored 120 others, and topped the circuit with a .335 batting average, 199 hits, 50 doubles, 393 total bases, and a .662 slugging average.

The Astros’ rather anemic offense had no one the ilk of either Lee or Pujols.  Third baseman Morgan Ensberg served as their primary power threat, finishing the season with 36 home runs, 101 runs batted in, 86 runs scored, and a .283 batting average.  Nevertheless, the Astros made the playoffs as a wild card almost exclusively because of their outstanding pitching, which enabled them to overcome a horrific 15-30 start.  The Astros nailed down the final playoff spot on the last day of the season after going on a 42-17 tear over the final two months of the campaign.

Houston’s starting rotation boasted three of the league’s finest pitchers.  Poor run-support limited Roger Clemens to a record of only 13-8, even though he led all N.L. hurlers with an ERA of 1.87.  Andy Pettitte finished 17-9, with an outstanding 2.39 earned run average.  Roy Oswalt led the staff with 20 wins, against 12 losses, while pitching to a 2.94 ERA.

While the Cardinals won their division by compiling the best record in either league, the San Diego Padres captured the N.L. West title even though they finished just two games over .500.  With Barry Bonds missing from San Francisco’s starting lineup for most of the year, the Padres snuck into the playoffs with a record of only 82-80.  The runner-up Arizona Diamondbacks finished five games back, while the Giants came in third, seven games off the pace.
    
Jake Peavy, Trevor Hoffman, and Brian Giles were San Diego’s only standout performers.  Peavy finished 13-7 with a 2.88 ERA.  Hoffman had a hand in more than half the team's victories, saving 43 games and winning one other.  Giles led the Padres with 83 runs batted in, 92 runs scored, and a .301 batting average.        

While the teams out west struggled the entire year, the N.L. East proved to be the league's strongest division from top-to-bottom.  Not one team finished below .500 and, with first-place Atlanta compiling a record of 90-72, virtually every squad remained in contention until the final two weeks of the season.  The runner-up Phillies, with 88 victories, finished just two games back, with both Florida and New York finishing seven games off the pace.

The Marlins featured two of the league's best young players in pitcher Dontrelle Willis and leftfielder Miguel Cabrera.  Willis compiled a record of 22-10, to lead all N.L. hurlers in victories.  He also led the league with seven complete games and five shutouts, while pitching to an outstanding 2.63 ERA.  Cabrera hit 33 home runs and placed among the league leaders with 116 runs batted in, 106 runs scored, 198 hits, and a .323 batting average.  Veteran first baseman Carlos Delgado also had a big year for the Marlins.  In his only season in Florida, Delgado hit 33 homers, knocked in 115 runs, and batted .301.  

The second-place Phillies featured one of the league's top offenses, finishing second in the circuit with 807 runs scored and a .270 team batting average.  In his first full season, second baseman Chase Utley hit 28 home runs, drove in 105 runs, scored 93 others, and batted .291.  Bobby Abreu homered 24 times, knocked in 102 runs, scored another 104, batted .286, and drew 117 bases on balls.  In only 88 games, N.L. Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard hit 22 homers and drove in 63 runs.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins batted .290, scored 115 runs, and stole 41 bases.  Outfielder Pat Burrell batted .281 and led the team with 32 homers and 117 runs batted in.  

Although the Braves found it difficult to separate themselves from the rest of the division over the course of the season, they captured their 11th straight N.L. East title, and their 14th consecutive division championship overall (they moved from the N.L. West to the N.L. East in 1994).  Once again the division’s most well-rounded team, the Braves finished sixth in the league with a 3.98 team ERA, and they also placed fourth in the circuit with 769 runs scored and 184 home runs.  John Smoltz served as Atlanta’s best pitcher, compiling a record of 14-7 and an ERA of 3.06.  Meanwhile, Andruw Jones paced the Braves on offense, leading the league with 51 home runs and 128 runs batted in, and placing among the leaders with a .575 slugging average.  His outstanding performance earned him a second-place finish in the N.L. MVP balloting.   

While the Cardinals, to no one’s surprise, quickly disposed of the Padres in their Division Series matchup, the first-round series between the Astros and Braves turned out to be far more competitive.  Although Houston needed only four games to eliminate Atlanta, the final contest evolved into a true classic.  Rookie Chris Burke put the Astros into the NLCS by hitting a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 18th inning that gave Houston a 7-6 victory in a five-hour and 50-minute marathon.  Roger Clemens got the win by working three scoreless innings in relief.

The Astros subsequently gained a measure of revenge against the Cardinals in the NLCS, defeating in six games a team that eliminated them from the postseason one year earlier.  Roy Oswalt earned NLCS MVP honors by winning both his starts and compiling a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings.  However, Houston’s bubble burst against the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.  The White Sox swept the Astros in four straight games, even though the outcomes of three of the four contests weren’t determined until the final at-bat.          

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• April 14 - At RFK Stadium, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Washington Nationals’ first home game.

• July 14 - The San Francisco Giants defeated their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, for their 10,000th victory in the franchise's history.

• July 23- The Giants retired number 36 in honor of Gaylord Perry.

• Speedster Jose Reyes of the Mets paced the National League with 17 triples and 60 stolen bases.

• Houston’s signing of Roger Clemens to a one-year contract worth $18 million made Clemens the highest paid pitcher in the game.

• The Cardinals played their last game at Busch Stadium.

• San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman became just the third reliever to register 400 saves.

• On July 26, Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux logged his 3,000th strikeout to go with his 300-plus wins.

• Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins ended the season riding a 36-game hitting streak – the longest in the majors since 1987.

Seasons of the National League

1876 · 1877 · 1878 · 1879 · 1880 · 1881 · 1882 · 1883 · 1884 · 1885 · 1886 · 1887 · 1888 · 1889 · 1890 · 1891 · 1892 · 1893 · 1894 · 1895 · 1896 · 1897 · 1898 · 1899 · 1900 · 1901 · 1902 · 1903 · 1904 · 1905 · 1906 · 1907 · 1908 · 1909 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1915 · 1916 · 1917 · 1918 · 1919 · 1920 · 1921 · 1922 · 1923 · 1924 · 1925 · 1926 · 1927 · 1928 · 1929 · 1930 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1934 · 1935 · 1936 · 1937 · 1938 · 1939 · 1940 · 1941 · 1942 · 1943 · 1944 · 1945 · 1946 · 1947 · 1948 · 1949 · 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 · 1962 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1977 · 1978 · 1979 · 1980 · 1981 · 1982 · 1983 · 1984 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987 · 1988 · 1989 · 1990 · 1991 · 1992 · 1993 · 1994 · 1995 · 1996 · 1997 · 1998 · 1999 · 2000 · 2001 · 2002 · 2003 · 2004 · 2005 · 2006 · 2007 · 2008 · 2009 · 2010  

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
ARI 2370 5550 696 1419 670 .176 291 27 191 67 26 2337 .326 .263 .649 132 45 71
ATL 2347 5486 769 1453 733 .238 308 37 184 92 32 2387 .370 .336 .778 147 46 75
CHN 2276 5584 703 1506 674 .221 323 23 194 65 39 2457 .357 .313 .698 131 37 69
CIN 2309 5565 820 1453 784 .179 335 15 222 72 23 2484 .315 .284 .678 116 39 43
COL 2301 5542 740 1477 704 .202 280 34 150 65 32 2275 .322 .280 .639 125 34 88
FLO 2296 5502 717 1499 678 .179 306 32 128 96 38 2253 .336 .251 .676 144 50 82
HOU 2324 5462 693 1400 654 .220 281 32 161 115 44 2228 .320 .332 .679 116 42 82
LAN 2352 5433 685 1374 653 .174 284 21 149 58 35 2147 .327 .252 .653 139 33 57
MIL 2226 5448 726 1413 689 .197 327 19 175 79 34 2303 .340 .298 .708 137 38 66
NYN 2214 5505 722 1421 683 .215 279 32 175 153 40 2289 .308 .331 .651 104 38 69
PHI 2273 5542 807 1494 760 .210 282 35 167 116 27 2347 .308 .297 .624 107 46 62
PIT 2289 5573 680 1445 656 .201 292 38 139 73 30 2230 .321 .293 .657 130 49 56
SDN 2380 5502 684 1416 655 .170 269 39 130 99 44 2153 .328 .248 .633 123 48 72
SFN 2360 5462 649 1427 617 .198 299 26 128 71 35 2162 .310 .275 .623 147 44 91
SLN 2324 5538 805 1494 757 .202 287 26 170 83 36 2343 .340 .312 .687 127 35 77
WAS 2352 5426 639 1367 615 .203 311 32 117 45 45 2093 .349 .290 .689 131 45 91

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
ARI 620 77 85 1456 1038 537 6402 1580 193 248.850 788 856 6 1 45 58 5
ATL 646 90 72 1443 929 520 6186 1487 145 120.700 639 674 8 3 38 42 5
CHN 619 79 83 1440 1256 576 6185 1357 186 110.870 671 714 8 2 39 57 7
CIN 654 73 89 1434 955 492 6397 1657 219 148.330 824 889 2 0 31 53 3
COL 621 67 95 1420 981 604 6385 1600 175 225.620 810 862 4 1 37 65 6
FLO 611 83 79 1442 1125 563 6236 1459 116 203.810 671 732 14 8 42 45 3
HOU 597 89 73 1442 1164 440 6023 1336 155 72.700 564 609 6 2 45 38 8
LAN 621 71 91 1429 1004 471 6113 1434 182 96.680 695 755 6 4 40 36 6
MIL 557 81 81 1439 1173 569 6208 1382 169 74.660 636 697 7 2 46 66 8
NYN 554 83 79 1435 1012 491 6121 1390 135 109.830 602 648 8 3 38 32 4
PHI 604 88 74 1435 1159 487 6119 1379 189 97.630 672 726 4 0 40 36 9
PIT 613 67 95 1436 958 612 6264 1456 162 128.230 708 769 4 3 35 52 4
SDN 618 82 80 1458 1133 503 6253 1452 146 131.290 668 726 4 3 45 36 3
SFN 673 75 87 1444 972 592 6280 1456 151 115.050 698 745 4 0 46 38 3
SLN 598 100 62 1446 974 443 6047 1399 153 97.470 560 634 15 7 48 41 5
WAS 632 81 81 1456 997 539 6286 1456 140 169.670 627 673 4 1 51 49 8

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
ARI 2700 7263 5348 1810 105 .979 17474 78 28 0 11
ATL 2649 7318 5381 1842 95 .975 17321 89 36 1.00 8
CHN 2683 7057 5257 1679 121 .954 17281 90 40 0 6
CIN 2669 7134 5395 1618 121 .968 17197 76 35 0 9
COL 2659 7166 5292 1737 137 .959 17026 102 37 0 14
FLO 2665 7045 5240 1686 119 .977 17308 118 38 0 9
HOU 2755 7093 5266 1723 104 .969 17316 53 31 1.00 6
LAN 2746 7202 5315 1758 129 .974 17128 130 34 1.00 9
MIL 2535 7058 5416 1507 135 .950 17255 86 34 0 8
NYN 2583 7175 5363 1689 123 .965 17225 107 25 1.00 5
PHI 2659 7006 5254 1644 108 .984 17220 82 26 0 12
PIT 2680 7315 5357 1822 136 .962 17233 64 36 1.00 16
SDN 2795 7088 5420 1544 124 .963 17468 94 25 0 12
SFN 2753 7213 5446 1648 119 .961 17336 78 54 2.00 5
SLN 2842 7341 5245 1980 116 .969 17348 32 33 1.00 12
WAS 2723 7212 5529 1576 107 .975 17498 76 41 0 7

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
San Diego Padres 82 80 2869787 1 1133
Arizona Diamondbacks 77 85 2059424 2 1038
San Francisco Giants 75 87 3181023 3 972
Los Angeles Dodgers 71 91 3603646 4 1004
Colorado Rockies 67 95 1914389 5 981

Central

team W L Att Rk SOP
St. Louis Cardinals 100 62 3538988 1 974
Houston Astros 89 73 2804760 2 1164
Milwaukee Brewers 81 81 2211023 3 1173
Chicago Cubs 79 83 3099992 4 1256
Cincinnati Reds 73 89 1943067 5 955
Pittsburg Pirates 67 95 1817245 6 958

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Atlanta Braves 90 72 2521167 1 929
Philadelphia Philies 88 74 2665304 2 1159
New York Mets 83 79 2829929 3 1012
Florida Marlins 83 79 1852608 3 1125
Washington Nationals 81 81 2731993 5 997

Awards

The Astros didn't care who they faced in the World Series. They were still too excited about actually being in the Fall Classic at all. They came into the Series with the worst record since the 2000 New York Yankees (who won) but the Yankees had the benefit of experience, having been in three of the previous four classics. Only four Astros had played in the World Series before.

And while the Astros avoided looking like the equivalent of the Washington Generals when the Boston Red Sox broke their 85-year Curse of the Bambino the previous year, their World Series opponent had their own championship drought to overcome. The Chicago White Sox hadn't won it all since 1917, two years before the infamous Black Sox World Series of 1919 when some Chicago players threw games to the gamblers. The last time they had won the American League pennant was 1959, three years before the Astros (then known as the Colt .45s) played their first game.

The White Sox flew under the radar during the regular season, logging a 99-63 record while all the talk centered around the Yankees and Red Sox of the East and the Angels of the West. The Sox were led by a quartet of starting pitchers who peaked at the right time. Jon Garland (18-10) was joined by Mark Buehrle (16-8), Jose Contreras (15-7) and Freddy Garcia (14-8) who had just handcuffed the Angels in five games.

Paul Konerko was the team's top slugger with 40 homers and 100 RBIs but nine players hit 10 or more homers and the team had a knack of hitting in the clutch. Among their leaders were outfielders Jermaine Dye and former Astro Carl Everett along with third baseman Joe Crede.

There was excitement throughout the South Side of Chicago at the thought of ending their long hex. They weren't intimidated at all about playing the Astros. Not even when the scene moved to Texas for the first time in World Series history.

Game 1



CHICAGO - It was the moment Astros fans had awaited for 44 seasons, a moment ripe with potential for greatness and the flair for the dramatic. However, there was no fairy-tale ending to the first World Series game in Astros franchise history on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Given numerous opportunities to produce in the clutch, the Astros couldn't take advantage as the Chicago White Sox won Game 1 of the 101st World Series 5-3. The highly anticipated matchup between former Yankees Roger Clemens and Jose Contreras wasn't much of a pitching clinic, especially after Clemens' strained left hamstring forced the Astros to dig into the bullpen after only two innings. Despite Clemens' absence, the Astros remained close and had more than enough opportunities to win before a sellout crowd of 41,206.

Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, the Astros mounted their last threat when Willy Taveras hit a leadoff double off the left-center field wall, prompting Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen to call on lefthander Neal Cotts to flip the switching-hitting Lance Berkman to the right side. Berkman greeted Cotts with a single to left, putting runners at the corners. Cotts struck out Morgan Ensberg and Mike Lamb before giving way to righthander Bobby Jenks.

"I think the difference was that I didn't hit those guys in at third base," Ensberg said after going 0-for-4 overall and 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. "I felt like obviously there were opportunities there."

With Jeff Bagwell at the plate, Chris Burke was sent to run for Berkman at first. In the lineup for the first time since May 3, Bagwell accepted the start as the Astros' designated hitter after manager Phil Garner guaranteed him that he wasn't given the nod only for sentimental reasons.

"I've been trying to use him in situations where we had a chance to win ballgames," Garner said. "I'd actually entertained the thought that if we ever got the lead somewhere down the road that was a big enough lead, I'd just leave him in at first base where throwing wouldn't be a factor. That way he could get a couple of at-bats. I was never able to do that. Not only that, this is the World Series, and it's great to have Baggy in the lineup."

But Bagwell was overpowered by Jenks and struck out to end the inning.

The White Sox weren't as forgiving in the bottom of the eighth against righthander Russ Springer when Scott Podsednik hit a two-out, RBI triple to increase their lead to 5-3.

Foiled by the left-hamstring problems that have plagued him since September, Clemens gave up four hits and three runs with one strikeout while lasting only two innings. Clemens, who threw 35 of his 54 pitches for strikes, had his shortest outing since he threw one inning on June 14, 2000. Lefthander Wandy Rodriguez, who took over in the third and gave up one run on four hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings, was tagged with the loss.

Contreras got the victory after holding the Astros to three runs on six hits with two strikeouts in seven-plus innings.

With two outs in the first inning, Jermaine Dye ripped Clemens' 3-2 pitch an estimated 383 feet over the right-field wall to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Lamb tied the score in the second inning with a 405-foot homer to center.

The White Sox countered in the bottom of the inning. Former Astro Carl Everett led off with a single up the middle. With Everett in motion, Aaron Rowand put runners at the corners with a chopper through the right side.Everett gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead on A.J. Pierzynski's fielder's-choice grounder to first. One out later, Juan Uribe hit an RBI double to center.

The Astros got those runs back in the third. Brad Ausmus led off with a single to right. After Adam Everett hit a fielder's-choice grounder back to Contreras, Craig Biggio singled to center. After Taveras sacrificed, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen visited Contreras on the mound. He had barely settled back into the dugout when Berkman ripped a two-run double to right, tying the score at three.

White Sox third baseman Joe Crede broke the tie with a solo homer over the left-center field wall in the fourth.

Taveras led off the sixth with a double to center and reached third on Berkman's groundout to first. Contreras left him there by getting Ensberg to ground to third and Lamb to second.

The Astros failed to capitalize again in the seventh. One out after Contreras hit Bagwell to start the inning, he hit Ausmus. That threat died with Adam Everett's fielder's-choice grounder to short and Biggio's grounder to third.


Game 2 at Chicago - White Sox 7, Astros 6
Sunday, October 23rd


CHICAGO - Righthanded relievers Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls could only watch in dismay from the visitors' dugout, suffering right along with Astros closer Brad Lidge as Scott Podsednik ripped a shot through the chilly air at U.S. Cellular Field.

Not long after the Astros scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the score, Podsednik hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning to give the Chicago White Sox a 7-6 victory on Sunday night in Game 2 of the 101st World Series. Podsednik's shot was only the 14th walk-off homer in World Series history and the first since Alex Gonzalez hit one in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series for the Florida Marlins against the New York Yankees.

Called upon to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning, the Astros' bullpen crumbled. And Houston still awaits its first World Series victory in franchise history.

After reaching the World Series for the first time in their 44th season, the Astros appeared primed for victory when lefthander Andy Pettitte gave his bullpen a 4-2 lead to protect before a rain-soaked sellout crowd of 41,432. But Wheeler and Qualls gave it all back and more to the White Sox, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.

Morgan Ensberg gave the Astros their first lead of the series with a leadoff homer to left field in the second inning off lefthander Mark Buehrle. The White Sox countered against Pettitte. Aaron Rowand hit a single through the left side, where the ball took a bad hop on Ensberg. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single off the left-field wall.

Joe Crede tied the score with a bloop single toward the line in shallow right field. Juan Uribe followed with what the official scorer ruled a fielder's choice after the ball bounced off second baseman Craig Biggio's glove in shallow right field. After the official scorers discussed whether or not to give Biggio an error, the play was ruled a fielder's choice (right fielder to shortstop) because Jason Lane alertly picked up the ball and threw Crede out at second.

Willy Taveras hit a one-out triple to right in the third and tied the score at 2 on Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly to center. The Astros put another runner in scoring position when Brad Ausmus led off the fifth with a double off the third baseman's glove. After Biggio grounded out, Taveras hit an infield single to short. Berkman gave the Astros a 4-2 lead with a two-run double to left.

The White Sox mounted a threat on Wheeler, beginning with Uribe's one-out double to center. One out later, Tadahito Iguchi walked. Wheeler fell behind 2-0 to Jermaine Dye, who took the next pitch for a strike. The next pitch was up and in, putting the count at 3-1.Dye fouled back the next two pitches and eventually reached base when plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that an inside 3-2 pitch hit him. Replays indicated that the ball hit the barrel of Dye's bat without hitting Dye, but Garner's mild protest got nowhere.

With the bases loaded, Qualls was called in from the bullpen. Paul Konerko ripped Qualls' first pitch to left for a grand slam. Although Qualls delivered the pitch Konerko roped for the grand slam, Wheeler presented the appetizers that led to such a nauseating experience for Astros fans everywhere Sunday night.

Bobby Jenks, who had shut the door on the Astros in Game 1, couldn't protect the lead in the ninth. Jeff Bagwell, who struck out on Jenks' 100-mph fastball with two men on in the eighth inning Saturday, greeted Jenks on Sunday with a leadoff single to center. One out later, Chris Burke drew a walk. After Brad Ausmus grounded out to first, pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino tied the score at 6 with a two-run double to left as third base coach Doug Mansolino waved Burke in for the close play at the plate. Burke's left hand just barely avoided the tag at home, but the excitement in the Astros' dugout died down soon after Lidge gave up Podsednik's homer.

"We're certainly not in a good spot," Garner said. "We had a chance to win this ballgame. As badly as we played, we had a chance to win."



Game 3 at Houston - White Sox 7, Astros 5 (14)
Tuesday, October 25th


HOUSTON - Texans waited 44 seasons to have their first World Series game in the Lone Star State, and they must wait at least one more day for the Astros to win in the Fall Classic.

Former Astro Geoff Blum hit a solo home run in the 14th inning to lead the American League champion Chicago White Sox to a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the 101st World Series at Minute Maid Park. With two outs in the 14th, Blum ripped Astros rookie Ezequiel Astacio's 2-0 pitch over the right-field wall, pushing the Astros to the brink of elimination.

"I just can't explain what it feels like to hit a home run in the World Series, let alone hit a game-winning home run, especially in a game that hard and that we played that hard," Blum said.

The White Sox added another run, but Blum's shot was the one that sent a pall through what was left of the sellout crowd of 42,848.

The Astros, who saw ace righthander Roy Oswalt give up five runs in the fifth to lose a 4-0 lead, trail the best-of-seven series 3-0. The Astros had only one hit after the fourth inning. They left 15 men on base.

The 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox are the only team to win a postseason series after falling behind 3-0, accomplishing the feat against the New York Yankees last season in the American League Championship Series. The National League champion Astros have overcome countless obstacles this year while becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to go from 15 games under .500 to the World Series.

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Now they can officially say they play World Series games longer here, too, because Game 3 equaled the longest game in World Series history. The Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 14 innings in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series. But in terms of time, Tuesday's was the longest in Series history at 5 hours, 41 minutes, surpassing the previous record of 4:51 set during Game 1 of the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and Mets on Oct. 21, 2000.

At the end, it came down to a fastball Astacio left up for Blum.

Leading 4-0, Oswalt labored through the fifth inning as the White Sox scored five runs while sending 11 batters to the plate. He was saved from the decision when Jason Lane hit a two-out RBI double to left in the eighth.

White Sox righthander Jon Garland gave up seven hits and four runs (two earned) with two walks, four strikeouts and a home run. He got a no-decision when his bullpen failed to hold the 5-4 lead in the eighth.

The night started of well for the Astros. Craig Biggio led off the game with a double to left, collecting the first World Series hit in the state of Texas at 7:47 p.m. One out later, Lance Berkman gave the Astros a 1-0 lead at 7:51 p.m. with a single to left.

Shortly after Adam Everett led off the third with an infield single to short, he was almost caught stealing. He escaped when shortstop Juan Uribe hit him with his throw to first. Given a reprieve, Everett advanced to second on Oswalt's sacrifice and scored on Biggio's RBI single through the right side at 8:25 p.m. One out later, Berkman singled to right. Morgan Ensberg's single through the left side made it 3-0.

Lane gave the Astros a 4-0 lead with a leadoff homer to left-center field in the fourth inning, delivering the first World Series home run in Texas exactly an hour after Biggio delivered the first hit.

Chicago countered with its five-run rally in the fifth when Oswalt needed a career-high 46 pitches for one inning. Joe Crede led off with a homer to right. Uribe followed with a single to center. After Garland struck out, Scott Podsednik singled through the right side.

Tadahito Iguchi cut the Astros' lead to 4-2 with an RBI single up the middle. Jermaine Dye made it 4-3 with a blooper to center. Oswalt retired Paul Konerko on a fly out to center for the second out, but A. J. Pierzynski gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead with a two-run double to right-center. Aaron Rowand followed with a walk, bringing Crede back to the plate. Oswalt hit Crede with a pitch, loading the bases. He escaped further damage on by inducing Uribe's fly out to right.

The Astros had a chance to win in the ninth but stranded the bases loaded. Righthander Orlando Hernandez walked three, but Ensberg struck out to end the inning. They also stranded two in the 10th, two in the 11th and two in the 14th.


Game 4 at Houston - White Sox 1, Astros 0
Wednesday, October 26th


HOUSTON - Time finally ran out on the Astros' most improbable and historic season, ending Wednesday night in Game 4 of the 101st World Series as the Chicago White Sox completed a four-game sweep at Minute Maid Park to end Houston's first appearance in the Fall Classic.

By sweeping the World Series 4-0, the American League champion White Sox won the title for the first time since 1917. Only the Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908, have waited longer than the 88 years the White Sox went between titles. The National League champion Astros became the first team swept in its first World Series appearance.

"It's tough to get swept in the World Series," closer Brad Lidge said. "They did an unbelievable job of pitching today, obviously. We congratulated each other. No one's hanging their head on this season.

Lidge took the mound before a sellout crowd of 42,936 with the game scoreless and gave up Chicago's run on World Series Most Valuable Player Jermaine Dye's RBI single up the middle in the eighth inning.

Astros righthander Brandon Backe and former Astros prospect Freddy Garcia each threw seven scoreless innings in an impressive pitchers' duel. Backe held the White Sox to five hits while striking out seven. Garcia held the Astros to four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts to earn the victory.

The Astros had learned to believe they could overcome tremendous odds in this season of improbable comebacks, but they couldn't rally while going 0-for-11 and striking out five times with runners in scoring position Wednesday night. They left nine men on base.

"I don't enjoy it," Jeff Bagwell said. "I wanted to be the last team standing, but these things happen. It's a tough game. It's tough to win. It's obviously tough to get to the World Series, and it's tough to win a World Series."

In time, the Astros will appreciate the astonishing feat they accomplished by reaching the World Series in a season many experts thought would be a rebuilding effort after the team lost sluggers Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran from the 2004 squad that went to the National League Championship Series.

The Astros fell to 15-30 on May 24, creating doubts about their season inside and outside the clubhouse. They responded with the best record in baseball throughout the rest of the regular season to win the wild card, becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to go from 15 games under .500 to the postseason in the same year.

After beating the NL East champion Atlanta Braves in the Division Series, they avenged last year's heartbreak by toppling the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series to reach the World Series.

"We're disappointed that we didn't win; don't get me wrong," said Craig Biggio, who has spent a franchise-record 18 seasons in Houston. "It's something that we wanted to do. That was the ultimate goal. Once you're here, you might as well win it."

The White Sox outscored the Astros in the Series by only six runs, 20-14, and no game was decided by more than two runs.

"I think if you look at the way the games went, it was just the little things here and there," Biggio said. "They caught a couple of breaks, and I think it was more their destiny than it was ours."

The Astros had their chances, and they lamented the opportunities they wasted. It will take awhile before they get over the disappointment, but nobody can say Houston has never been in the World Series.

"It's been a marvelous season," Astros owner Drayton McLane said. "Our desire is to go to the World Series. We've done that, but it was also to win. We have those two objectives then to make a positive difference in Houston.

"But the one missing piece is to win the World Series. So we're going to start working on that early in the morning."

Information for this page was compiled from Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox media sources, Houston Chronicle reports and Retrosheet.org.

By none

The Astros didn't care who they faced in the World Series. They were still too excited about actually being in the Fall Classic at all. They came into the Series with the worst record since the 2000 New York Yankees (who won) but the Yankees had the benefit of experience, having been in three of the previous four classics. Only four Astros had played in the World Series before.

And while the Astros avoided looking like the equivalent of the Washington Generals when the Boston Red Sox broke their 85-year Curse of the Bambino the previous year, their World Series opponent had their own championship drought to overcome. The Chicago White Sox hadn't won it all since 1917, two years before the infamous Black Sox World Series of 1919 when some Chicago players threw games to the gamblers. The last time they had won the American League pennant was 1959, three years before the Astros (then known as the Colt .45s) played their first game.

The White Sox flew under the radar during the regular season, logging a 99-63 record while all the talk centered around the Yankees and Red Sox of the East and the Angels of the West. The Sox were led by a quartet of starting pitchers who peaked at the right time. Jon Garland (18-10) was joined by Mark Buehrle (16-8), Jose Contreras (15-7) and Freddy Garcia (14-8) who had just handcuffed the Angels in five games.

Paul Konerko was the team's top slugger with 40 homers and 100 RBIs but nine players hit 10 or more homers and the team had a knack of hitting in the clutch. Among their leaders were outfielders Jermaine Dye and former Astro Carl Everett along with third baseman Joe Crede.

There was excitement throughout the South Side of Chicago at the thought of ending their long hex. They weren't intimidated at all about playing the Astros. Not even when the scene moved to Texas for the first time in World Series history.

Game 1



CHICAGO - It was the moment Astros fans had awaited for 44 seasons, a moment ripe with potential for greatness and the flair for the dramatic. However, there was no fairy-tale ending to the first World Series game in Astros franchise history on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Given numerous opportunities to produce in the clutch, the Astros couldn't take advantage as the Chicago White Sox won Game 1 of the 101st World Series 5-3. The highly anticipated matchup between former Yankees Roger Clemens and Jose Contreras wasn't much of a pitching clinic, especially after Clemens' strained left hamstring forced the Astros to dig into the bullpen after only two innings. Despite Clemens' absence, the Astros remained close and had more than enough opportunities to win before a sellout crowd of 41,206.

Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, the Astros mounted their last threat when Willy Taveras hit a leadoff double off the left-center field wall, prompting Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen to call on lefthander Neal Cotts to flip the switching-hitting Lance Berkman to the right side. Berkman greeted Cotts with a single to left, putting runners at the corners. Cotts struck out Morgan Ensberg and Mike Lamb before giving way to righthander Bobby Jenks.

"I think the difference was that I didn't hit those guys in at third base," Ensberg said after going 0-for-4 overall and 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. "I felt like obviously there were opportunities there."

With Jeff Bagwell at the plate, Chris Burke was sent to run for Berkman at first. In the lineup for the first time since May 3, Bagwell accepted the start as the Astros' designated hitter after manager Phil Garner guaranteed him that he wasn't given the nod only for sentimental reasons.

"I've been trying to use him in situations where we had a chance to win ballgames," Garner said. "I'd actually entertained the thought that if we ever got the lead somewhere down the road that was a big enough lead, I'd just leave him in at first base where throwing wouldn't be a factor. That way he could get a couple of at-bats. I was never able to do that. Not only that, this is the World Series, and it's great to have Baggy in the lineup."

But Bagwell was overpowered by Jenks and struck out to end the inning.

The White Sox weren't as forgiving in the bottom of the eighth against righthander Russ Springer when Scott Podsednik hit a two-out, RBI triple to increase their lead to 5-3.

Foiled by the left-hamstring problems that have plagued him since September, Clemens gave up four hits and three runs with one strikeout while lasting only two innings. Clemens, who threw 35 of his 54 pitches for strikes, had his shortest outing since he threw one inning on June 14, 2000. Lefthander Wandy Rodriguez, who took over in the third and gave up one run on four hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings, was tagged with the loss.

Contreras got the victory after holding the Astros to three runs on six hits with two strikeouts in seven-plus innings.

With two outs in the first inning, Jermaine Dye ripped Clemens' 3-2 pitch an estimated 383 feet over the right-field wall to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Lamb tied the score in the second inning with a 405-foot homer to center.

The White Sox countered in the bottom of the inning. Former Astro Carl Everett led off with a single up the middle. With Everett in motion, Aaron Rowand put runners at the corners with a chopper through the right side.Everett gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead on A.J. Pierzynski's fielder's-choice grounder to first. One out later, Juan Uribe hit an RBI double to center.

The Astros got those runs back in the third. Brad Ausmus led off with a single to right. After Adam Everett hit a fielder's-choice grounder back to Contreras, Craig Biggio singled to center. After Taveras sacrificed, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen visited Contreras on the mound. He had barely settled back into the dugout when Berkman ripped a two-run double to right, tying the score at three.

White Sox third baseman Joe Crede broke the tie with a solo homer over the left-center field wall in the fourth.

Taveras led off the sixth with a double to center and reached third on Berkman's groundout to first. Contreras left him there by getting Ensberg to ground to third and Lamb to second.

The Astros failed to capitalize again in the seventh. One out after Contreras hit Bagwell to start the inning, he hit Ausmus. That threat died with Adam Everett's fielder's-choice grounder to short and Biggio's grounder to third.


Game 2 at Chicago - White Sox 7, Astros 6
Sunday, October 23rd


CHICAGO - Righthanded relievers Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls could only watch in dismay from the visitors' dugout, suffering right along with Astros closer Brad Lidge as Scott Podsednik ripped a shot through the chilly air at U.S. Cellular Field.

Not long after the Astros scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the score, Podsednik hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning to give the Chicago White Sox a 7-6 victory on Sunday night in Game 2 of the 101st World Series. Podsednik's shot was only the 14th walk-off homer in World Series history and the first since Alex Gonzalez hit one in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series for the Florida Marlins against the New York Yankees.

Called upon to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning, the Astros' bullpen crumbled. And Houston still awaits its first World Series victory in franchise history.

After reaching the World Series for the first time in their 44th season, the Astros appeared primed for victory when lefthander Andy Pettitte gave his bullpen a 4-2 lead to protect before a rain-soaked sellout crowd of 41,432. But Wheeler and Qualls gave it all back and more to the White Sox, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.

Morgan Ensberg gave the Astros their first lead of the series with a leadoff homer to left field in the second inning off lefthander Mark Buehrle. The White Sox countered against Pettitte. Aaron Rowand hit a single through the left side, where the ball took a bad hop on Ensberg. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single off the left-field wall.

Joe Crede tied the score with a bloop single toward the line in shallow right field. Juan Uribe followed with what the official scorer ruled a fielder's choice after the ball bounced off second baseman Craig Biggio's glove in shallow right field. After the official scorers discussed whether or not to give Biggio an error, the play was ruled a fielder's choice (right fielder to shortstop) because Jason Lane alertly picked up the ball and threw Crede out at second.

Willy Taveras hit a one-out triple to right in the third and tied the score at 2 on Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly to center. The Astros put another runner in scoring position when Brad Ausmus led off the fifth with a double off the third baseman's glove. After Biggio grounded out, Taveras hit an infield single to short. Berkman gave the Astros a 4-2 lead with a two-run double to left.

The White Sox mounted a threat on Wheeler, beginning with Uribe's one-out double to center. One out later, Tadahito Iguchi walked. Wheeler fell behind 2-0 to Jermaine Dye, who took the next pitch for a strike. The next pitch was up and in, putting the count at 3-1.Dye fouled back the next two pitches and eventually reached base when plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that an inside 3-2 pitch hit him. Replays indicated that the ball hit the barrel of Dye's bat without hitting Dye, but Garner's mild protest got nowhere.

With the bases loaded, Qualls was called in from the bullpen. Paul Konerko ripped Qualls' first pitch to left for a grand slam. Although Qualls delivered the pitch Konerko roped for the grand slam, Wheeler presented the appetizers that led to such a nauseating experience for Astros fans everywhere Sunday night.

Bobby Jenks, who had shut the door on the Astros in Game 1, couldn't protect the lead in the ninth. Jeff Bagwell, who struck out on Jenks' 100-mph fastball with two men on in the eighth inning Saturday, greeted Jenks on Sunday with a leadoff single to center. One out later, Chris Burke drew a walk. After Brad Ausmus grounded out to first, pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino tied the score at 6 with a two-run double to left as third base coach Doug Mansolino waved Burke in for the close play at the plate. Burke's left hand just barely avoided the tag at home, but the excitement in the Astros' dugout died down soon after Lidge gave up Podsednik's homer.

"We're certainly not in a good spot," Garner said. "We had a chance to win this ballgame. As badly as we played, we had a chance to win."



Game 3 at Houston - White Sox 7, Astros 5 (14)
Tuesday, October 25th


HOUSTON - Texans waited 44 seasons to have their first World Series game in the Lone Star State, and they must wait at least one more day for the Astros to win in the Fall Classic.

Former Astro Geoff Blum hit a solo home run in the 14th inning to lead the American League champion Chicago White Sox to a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the 101st World Series at Minute Maid Park. With two outs in the 14th, Blum ripped Astros rookie Ezequiel Astacio's 2-0 pitch over the right-field wall, pushing the Astros to the brink of elimination.

"I just can't explain what it feels like to hit a home run in the World Series, let alone hit a game-winning home run, especially in a game that hard and that we played that hard," Blum said.

The White Sox added another run, but Blum's shot was the one that sent a pall through what was left of the sellout crowd of 42,848.

The Astros, who saw ace righthander Roy Oswalt give up five runs in the fifth to lose a 4-0 lead, trail the best-of-seven series 3-0. The Astros had only one hit after the fourth inning. They left 15 men on base.

The 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox are the only team to win a postseason series after falling behind 3-0, accomplishing the feat against the New York Yankees last season in the American League Championship Series. The National League champion Astros have overcome countless obstacles this year while becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to go from 15 games under .500 to the World Series.

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Now they can officially say they play World Series games longer here, too, because Game 3 equaled the longest game in World Series history. The Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 14 innings in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series. But in terms of time, Tuesday's was the longest in Series history at 5 hours, 41 minutes, surpassing the previous record of 4:51 set during Game 1 of the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and Mets on Oct. 21, 2000.

At the end, it came down to a fastball Astacio left up for Blum.

Leading 4-0, Oswalt labored through the fifth inning as the White Sox scored five runs while sending 11 batters to the plate. He was saved from the decision when Jason Lane hit a two-out RBI double to left in the eighth.

White Sox righthander Jon Garland gave up seven hits and four runs (two earned) with two walks, four strikeouts and a home run. He got a no-decision when his bullpen failed to hold the 5-4 lead in the eighth.

The night started of well for the Astros. Craig Biggio led off the game with a double to left, collecting the first World Series hit in the state of Texas at 7:47 p.m. One out later, Lance Berkman gave the Astros a 1-0 lead at 7:51 p.m. with a single to left.

Shortly after Adam Everett led off the third with an infield single to short, he was almost caught stealing. He escaped when shortstop Juan Uribe hit him with his throw to first. Given a reprieve, Everett advanced to second on Oswalt's sacrifice and scored on Biggio's RBI single through the right side at 8:25 p.m. One out later, Berkman singled to right. Morgan Ensberg's single through the left side made it 3-0.

Lane gave the Astros a 4-0 lead with a leadoff homer to left-center field in the fourth inning, delivering the first World Series home run in Texas exactly an hour after Biggio delivered the first hit.

Chicago countered with its five-run rally in the fifth when Oswalt needed a career-high 46 pitches for one inning. Joe Crede led off with a homer to right. Uribe followed with a single to center. After Garland struck out, Scott Podsednik singled through the right side.

Tadahito Iguchi cut the Astros' lead to 4-2 with an RBI single up the middle. Jermaine Dye made it 4-3 with a blooper to center. Oswalt retired Paul Konerko on a fly out to center for the second out, but A. J. Pierzynski gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead with a two-run double to right-center. Aaron Rowand followed with a walk, bringing Crede back to the plate. Oswalt hit Crede with a pitch, loading the bases. He escaped further damage on by inducing Uribe's fly out to right.

The Astros had a chance to win in the ninth but stranded the bases loaded. Righthander Orlando Hernandez walked three, but Ensberg struck out to end the inning. They also stranded two in the 10th, two in the 11th and two in the 14th.


Game 4 at Houston - White Sox 1, Astros 0
Wednesday, October 26th


HOUSTON - Time finally ran out on the Astros' most improbable and historic season, ending Wednesday night in Game 4 of the 101st World Series as the Chicago White Sox completed a four-game sweep at Minute Maid Park to end Houston's first appearance in the Fall Classic.

By sweeping the World Series 4-0, the American League champion White Sox won the title for the first time since 1917. Only the Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908, have waited longer than the 88 years the White Sox went between titles. The National League champion Astros became the first team swept in its first World Series appearance.

"It's tough to get swept in the World Series," closer Brad Lidge said. "They did an unbelievable job of pitching today, obviously. We congratulated each other. No one's hanging their head on this season.

Lidge took the mound before a sellout crowd of 42,936 with the game scoreless and gave up Chicago's run on World Series Most Valuable Player Jermaine Dye's RBI single up the middle in the eighth inning.

Astros righthander Brandon Backe and former Astros prospect Freddy Garcia each threw seven scoreless innings in an impressive pitchers' duel. Backe held the White Sox to five hits while striking out seven. Garcia held the Astros to four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts to earn the victory.

The Astros had learned to believe they could overcome tremendous odds in this season of improbable comebacks, but they couldn't rally while going 0-for-11 and striking out five times with runners in scoring position Wednesday night. They left nine men on base.

"I don't enjoy it," Jeff Bagwell said. "I wanted to be the last team standing, but these things happen. It's a tough game. It's tough to win. It's obviously tough to get to the World Series, and it's tough to win a World Series."

In time, the Astros will appreciate the astonishing feat they accomplished by reaching the World Series in a season many experts thought would be a rebuilding effort after the team lost sluggers Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran from the 2004 squad that went to the National League Championship Series.

The Astros fell to 15-30 on May 24, creating doubts about their season inside and outside the clubhouse. They responded with the best record in baseball throughout the rest of the regular season to win the wild card, becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to go from 15 games under .500 to the postseason in the same year.

After beating the NL East champion Atlanta Braves in the Division Series, they avenged last year's heartbreak by toppling the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series to reach the World Series.

"We're disappointed that we didn't win; don't get me wrong," said Craig Biggio, who has spent a franchise-record 18 seasons in Houston. "It's something that we wanted to do. That was the ultimate goal. Once you're here, you might as well win it."

The White Sox outscored the Astros in the Series by only six runs, 20-14, and no game was decided by more than two runs.

"I think if you look at the way the games went, it was just the little things here and there," Biggio said. "They caught a couple of breaks, and I think it was more their destiny than it was ours."

The Astros had their chances, and they lamented the opportunities they wasted. It will take awhile before they get over the disappointment, but nobody can say Houston has never been in the World Series.

"It's been a marvelous season," Astros owner Drayton McLane said. "Our desire is to go to the World Series. We've done that, but it was also to win. We have those two objectives then to make a positive difference in Houston.

"But the one missing piece is to win the World Series. So we're going to start working on that early in the morning."

Information for this page was compiled from Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox media sources, Houston Chronicle reports and Retrosheet.org.

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Tagged:
Albert Pujols, Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Brian Giles, Carlos Delgado, Chase Utley, Chris Burke, Chris Carpenter, David Eckstein, Derrek Lee, Dontrelle Willis, Greg Maddux, Houston Astros, Jake Peavy, Jeff Suppan, Jim Edmonds, Jimmy Rollins, John Smoltz, Jose Reyes, Mark Mulder, Matt Morris, Miguel Cabrera, Morgan Ensberg, Pat Burrell, Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Howard, St. Louis Cardinals, Trevor Hoffman

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