Given a second chance when plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three — but not the third out — Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels (search) 2-1 Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at a game apiece.
In a sequence as bizarre as any imaginable on a baseball field, A.J. Pierzynski (search) struck out swinging against Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar (search), appearing to end the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 1.
Escobar's low pitch was gloved by backup catcher Josh Paul (search) — he appeared to grab it just before the ball would have hit the dirt. And behind him, Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his first, signaling strike three.
Pierzynski hustled and took off for first base anyway, just in case. Sure the inning was over, Paul rolled the ball out to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field, so Pierzynski was easily safe.
Then everybody stopped, including the umpires. When they let Pierzynski stay at first, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia (search) came out of the dugout to argue.
"When he rings him up with a fist, he's out," Scioscia said.
The umpires huddled and upheld the call after a delay of about four minutes.
When it looked as if play was about to begin again, Scioscia came out again and Eddings consulted with third-base umpire Ed Rapuano.
The call stood, and the White Sox capitalized.
Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna (search) quickly stole second, and Crede lined an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner for a game-winning double.
Mark Buehrle (search) pitched a five-hitter for the first complete game of this postseason, and the White Sox bounced back from a tight loss in the opener.
"Do we feel lucky? No," Pierzynski said. "Did they feel lucky when they won last night?"
The series shifts to Anaheim for Game 3 on Friday. The Angels were planning to finally get some sleep — but that might be difficult after losing this way.
Los Angeles arrived at its hotel in Chicago around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after crisscrossing the country while flying overnight two days in a row.
In fact, the Angels plan to bypass the conventional off-day workout Thursday in their own ballpark, choosing instead to let their players rest.
Smooth as ever, Buehrle cruised through the ninth on eight pitches, jogging over to catch Garret Anderson's (search) inning-ending popup himself and casually tossing the ball into the stands
Robb Quinlan (search) homered and saved a run with a sparkling defensive play for the Angels.
Crede was doubled off second on Juan Uribe's liner to left to end the seventh, bringing manager Ozzie Guillen (search) charging out of the dugout to argue unsuccessfully.
Washburn, coming off a throat infection and fever, allowed only an unearned run and four hits, keeping his team close.
Working quickly as always, Buehrle faced the minimum until Cabrera's one-out double in the fourth. The AL starter in this year's All-Star game, he was 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA at home and beat Boston in Game 2 of the division series.
Buehrle and Washburn are quite familiar with each other — this was their seventh career matchup.
Washburn was scratched from his scheduled start in the first round because of his illness, calling it "torture" to have to watch the final two games on television.
He sat alone in a back room at Angel Stadium as his teammates eliminated the Yankees in Game 5, a makeshift quarantine so he wouldn't infect anybody.
When everyone else popped the champagne, Washburn guzzled Gatorade.
Scioscia said Wednesday his starter was still "a little green behind the gills." Washburn went to the mound anyway, pitching for the first time in 11 days.
He normally does his best work on the road, but he looked shaky at the start, inexplicably throwing away Podsednik's leadoff comebacker for a two-base error.
Tadahito Iguchi's sacrifice drew a roar from the crowd of 41,013 — Chicago fans are gaga for Guillen's small-ball style. Plus, failed bunt attempts cost the White Sox in Game 1.
Dye's RBI groundout gave Chicago its first lead of the series.
Rowand slid safely into third as Guerrero's long throw skidded through the infield. With the crowd screaming, third-base coach Joey Cora leaned down to holler at Rowand, wave him to his feet and send him home.
But Quinlan made an outstanding play, dashing up the left-field line to chase down the ball with a slide. He popped to his feet and fired to the plate, just in time for catcher Jose Molina (search) to reach and tag Rowand as he dived headfirst.
Quinlan, starting at third to provide another right-handed bat against Buehrle, connected in the fifth for his first career postseason homer, tying the score at 1.
Notes:SS Uribe made a fine play to rob Guerrero of a first-inning hit for the second consecutive night. ... Bengie Molina, serving as the DH to give him a break from catching, was hit by a pitch in the knee. ... Washburn has not allowed a stolen base all year. ... Angels reliever Scot Shields (search) threw a perfect sixth.