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Old 10-25-2005, 02:58 PM   #49
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Default Re: Lets Go 'stros....

here is the preview for todays game:

GAME: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros.

SERIES: World Series; White Sox lead 2-0.
TIME: Tuesday, 8:38 p.m. EDT.

Two stunning home runs and more help from yet another questionable umpiring call helped the Chicago White Sox move within two wins of their first World Series title since 1917.

Now Chicago will have something else working in its favor as it tries to pull closer to the championship - at least two games in front of a hostile crowd on the road.

The White Sox, the major leagues' best road team this season, look to take a 3-0 lead over the Houston Astros in the World Series when the scene shifts to Minute Maid Park.

Chicago rolls into Houston on the heels of a pair of exhilarating victories at U.S. Cellular Field. Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko provided the drama on Sunday night, as Konerko's seventh-inning grand slam erased a 4-2 deficit, and Podsednik homered off Astros closer Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth to give the White Sox a 7-6 win.

"I don't think anyone in the ballpark was thinking about me hitting the ball out of the ballpark," said Podsednik, who didn't hit his first homer of the season until the playoff opener against Boston.

Konerko's slam, his fifth postseason homer, came on Chad Qualls' first offering after Jermaine Dye was ruled to have been hit by a pitch from Dan Wheeler. Dye admitted the pitch struck his bat.

"He's got nasty stuff, that guy," Konerko said of Qualls. "He threw it exactly where I was looking."

Podsednik then bailed out closer Bobby Jenks, one of the stars of Game 1 who helped shut down the Astros in the final two innings, after Jenks allowed a two-run, two-out single to pinch-hitter Jose Vizcaino that tied the game in the ninth.

While Houston heads home looking to turn the series at raucous Minute Maid Park, where it was an NL-best 53-28 this season, the Astros will have to do it against a White Sox club that went 52-29 on the road in 2005, tops in baseball. Chicago has carried that into the playoffs, winning all four of its games away from home.

Phil Garner's club has been frustrated by Chicago's clutch hitting, pitching and timely breaks that have dropped Houston into an 0-2 hole in its first World Series appearance.

"Well, we're not in a good spot," Garner said. "They can't do anything wrong."

Although the White Sox have relied on their power at key times in this postseason, they are similar to Houston in favoring a smallball approach of bunting, stealing and hitting and running. With no designated hitter in the NL park, that style could be used heavily by both teams starting Tuesday, although the short porches of the Astros' stadium should be inviting to hot White Sox power hitters such as Konerko, Dye and Joe Crede.

Facing the prospect of a 3-0 deficit, Garner will turn to his best pitcher of these playoffs in Roy Oswalt to get his team back in the series. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his three starts of this postseason, and has lasted at least seven innings each time. Oswalt pitched the Astros into the World Series in his last outing, defeating St. Louis 5-1 in Game 6 of the NL championship series Wednesday to earn NLCS MVP honors.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen will counter with 18-game winner Jon Garland, who is coming off an outstanding performance of his own in his first career playoff start. Garland beat the Los Angeles Angels in Game 3 of the ALCS, throwing a four-hitter and allowing two runs with seven strikeouts and one walk in a 5-2 win Oct. 14.

For the Astros to bounce back, their usually effective bullpen must improve. Lidge gave up just five home runs during the regular season, but the homer to Podsednik followed Albert Pujols' three-run, ninth-inning shot off the closer in Game 5 of the NLCS that extended that series against the Cardinals another game.

"I'm frustrated by it, but I'm not changing a darn thing," Lidge said. "I'm ready to get out there as quickly as possible."

Qualls and Wheeler, dependable setup men for Lidge during the season, set the stage for Konerko's homer with their struggles in the seventh inning Sunday.

Game 4 will be at Houston on Wednesday night.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Astros - NL wild-card winners; beat Atlanta Braves 3-1, division series; beat St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, championship series. White Sox - AL Central champions; beat Boston Red Sox 3-0, division series; beat Los Angeles Angels 4-1, championship series.

PROJECTED LINEUPS: White Sox - LF Podsednik (.290, 0 HRs, 25 RBIs, 59 SBs), 2B Tadahito Iguchi (.278, 15, 71), RF Dye (.274, 31, 86), 1B Konerko (.283, 40, 100, 98 runs), CF Aaron Rowand (.270, 13, 69), C A.J. Pierzynski (.257, 18, 56), 3B Crede (.252, 22, 62), SS Juan Uribe (.252, 16, 71), Garland (.500, 0, 1). Astros - 2B Craig Biggio (.264, 26, 69, 17 HBP), CF Willy Taveras (.291, 3, 29), LF Lance Berkman (.293, 24, 82, 91 walks), 3B Morgan Ensberg (.283, 36, 101), 1B Mike Lamb (.236, 12, 53), RF Jason Lane (.267, 26, 78), C Brad Ausmus (.258, 3, 47); SS Adam Everett (.248, 11, 54), Oswalt (.178, 0, 2).

WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Garland (18-10, 3.50 ERA). The right-hander will be pitching his first game against the Astros. The only players on the Houston roster he has faced are Lamb, Ausmus and Orlando Palmeiro, who are a combined 2-for-13 with no extra-base hits against him.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Oswalt (20-12, 2.94 ERA). The right-hander will be pitching on six days rest, and is 7-2 with a 3.06 ERA in his career with six or more days between starts. Oswalt has never faced the White Sox. He is 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA in seven postseason games, including six starts.

STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - Pierzynski is hitting .625 (5-for-8) against Oswalt. ... Podsednik has faced Oswalt the most of any White Sox player from his days with Milwaukee, getting six hits in 23 at-bats (.261) against him. ... Chicago will lose Carl Everett's 23 HRs and 87 RBIs from the starting lineup with no DH in the NL park. Everett went 3-for-7 in Games 1 and 2. Astros - INF Vizcaino had been 0-for-7 this postseason, including 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter. ... 1B Jeff Bagwell went 1-for-6 in the first two games and was hit by a pitch twice serving as the DH. He's likely to be used as a pinch-hitter in the games at Minute Maid Park, and is 12-for-32 (.375) with two HRs and 15 RBIs in that role in his career. ... Berkman, who had three RBIs and went 1-for-3 on Sunday, is hitting .333 (14-for-42) with two HRs, 13 RBIs and five doubles in this postseason.

POSTSEASON ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 4-0 on the road. Astros - 4-1 at home.
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