There were last-minute adjustments to the lineup and some tinkering with the defense prior to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday, but the White Sox pressed forth and handed the Angels a 6-3 loss to take the series, four games to one.
Rain falling in Southern California in the month of October is about as common as the White Sox reaching the World Series, but fate brought both of those events together Sunday.
The White Sox will head to the World Series for the first time since 1959 and will be looking for their first win in the Fall Classic since 1917. The White Sox will face either the Astros or the Cardinals in the World Series, which begins Saturday. The Astros currently hold a 3-1 edge in the NLCS.
The Angels will head home for the winter and ponder a postseason in which they seemingly had all the momentum after eliminating the Yankees in the AL Division Series, but they instead met a team that outmatched them in every aspect of the game and had the drive to forge a convincing series victory.
"We had things going pretty well -- we had our offense going at the end of the season and we did a good job against the Yankees, but they put an end to all that," said Adam Kennedy, who went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. "Guys came to the park today and were ready to play. We did some things offensively, but we just couldn't do enough."
The Angels matched a series high with three runs Sunday, the same total they had in their Game 1 win. But they could manage only five hits and went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
They finished Sunday's game with 15 straight outs, and while one of those outs was Garret Anderson's fifth-inning sac fly that gave the Angels their first lead since the first game of the series, it was far too little to apply any pressure on a pitching staff that simply dominated.
"They did a good job pitching in this series," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "They were constantly ahead of hitters, they didn't get behind and they made their pitches."
Sunday's winner, Jose Contreras, became the fourth straight Sox starter to go the distance. The right-hander walked two and struck out two while facing 34 batters.
Contreras took the loss in Game 1, the only game in which the Sox bullpen made an appearance, with Neal Cotts recording two ninth-inning outs.
Left-hander Mark Buehrle then delivered a complete-game victory for the Sox in Game 2. His effort was duplicated by right-handers Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia in Games 3 and 4, respectively.
Amazingly, it was the first time since LCS play began in 1969 that one team produced four complete games from its starting pitchers. The last time it happened in the postseason was in 1956, when five Yankees -- Whitey Ford, Tom Sturdivant, Don Larsen, Bob Turley and Johnny Kucks -- turned the trick against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen's was also a perfect game.
"I've never seen four horses like that that come out of the gate and have pitched so well," manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys pitched tremendous baseball."
Anderson and Rivera accounted for two hits, a run and an RBI on Sunday, but Guerrero went 0-for-4 to finish a tough series. The slugger picked up one single in 20 at-bats (.050) in the ALCS, and hit only two balls out of the infield.
"They did a good job with every one of our hitters," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "I look back and maybe I tried to do too much, so maybe I tried too hard, but they got it done with their pitching."
The Angels also were forced to endure one last strange call, which ultimately proved as pivotal as the disputed call in Game 2 involving Josh Paul, A.J. Pierzynksi and umpire Doug Eddings.
With the score tied at 3 and two out in the top of the eighth, Kelvim Escobar walked Aaron Rowand. Pierzynski then hit a comebacker that caromed off Escobar's backside and rolled toward the first-base line. The right-hander recovered the ball and tried to make the tag on Pierzynski, but he tagged him with his glove while the ball was in his right hand.
First-base umpire Randy Marsh initially called Pierzynski out, but after White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen argued, the umpiring crew awarded Pierzynski first. Scioscia then argued that Pierzynski was out of the baseline, but replays appeared to show the White Sox catcher was in the running lane.
Game 2 hero Joe Crede followed with an infield chopper up the middle off Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez that scored Rowand to put the White Sox up, 4-3, handing Escobar the loss, his second in the series.
Paul Konerko was named ALCS MVP with two homers and seven RBIs, but it was Crede who was the difference. In addition to his heroics in Game 2, when he doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, Crede also tied Sunday's game with a solo homer off Escobar in the seventh. The White Sox third baseman hit .368 in the series and tied Konerko for the team lead with seven RBIs.
But the chopper, with the rain increasing in intensity, was the big blow.
"Whatever controversies there may have been, they took advantage when they needed to take advantage," Kennedy said. "It was all White Sox in this series. They took it to us pretty good."
The White Sox got on the board in the second, when Rowand led off with a double, went to third on a sacrifice by Pierzynski and scored on Crede's sac fly. The Angels tied the game in the third, when Rivera doubled, took third on a throwing error by Contreras and scored on a single by Kennedy.
Jermaine Dye put the White Sox back in front in the fifth. With one out, Juan Uribe doubled and Scott Podsednik walked. After Tadahito Iguchi flied out, Dye laced a double to left-center to score Uribe and give the Sox a 2-1 lead.
The Angels fought back to grab the lead in the bottom of the inning. Kennedy got aboard on an infield single, and was already running when Chone Figgins followed with a liner into the right-field corner.
A fan reached over the wall and caught the ball, forcing Kennedy to initially stop at third on the ground-rule double. But the umpires determined that Kennedy would have scored easily, so he was awarded home.
Figgins then went to third on Orlando Cabrera's ground ball and scored on Anderson's sac fly for a 3-2 lead, the Angels' last of the 2005 season.
"You have to tip your cap to the White Sox," general manager Bill Stoneman said. "They played very well and they deserve to go to the World Series."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less