CHICAGO – Yes, the Chicago White Sox (search) do indeed have a bullpen, and they have the lead in the World Series, too.
Neal Cotts (search) and Bobby Jenks got out of an eighth-inning jam, Joe Crede hit a go-ahead homer and saved two runs with a pair of diving stops and the White Sox beat the Houston Astros (search) 5-3 on Saturday night in Chicago's first World Series (search) game since 1959.
"They don't see the bullpen," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Now they see it."
On a night when 43-year-old Roger Clemens (search) hoped to become the oldest pitcher to win a World Series game, the Rocket hobbled off after just two innings, done in by the hamstring injury that has hampered him since early September.
Winner Jose Contreras (search) allowed the Astros three runs in seven-plus innings in their first ever World Series game. He tied a Series record by hitting three batters.
Chicago had pitched four straight complete games in finishing off the Angels in the AL championship series (search), a feat not achieved in a postseason series since 1956. The White Sox used their bullpen for just two outs and seven pitches against Los Angeles. But Willy Taveras hit a leadoff double off Contreras in the eighth with Houston trailing 4-3, and Guillen took him out after 81 pitches.
Cotts, a left-hander and the only reliever used by Chicago against the Angels, came in and allowed a sharp single to left by Lance Berkman, a ball hit so hard that Taveras had to hold at third. Cotts then struck out Morgan Ensberg (search) and Mike Lamb.
"There wasn't much of a rust," Cotts said.
Then Guillen went to the mound and raised both arms to make the fat-and-tall sign for his portly pitcher. Jenks, a right-handed rookie who began the year at Double-A, came in to face Jeff Bagwell (search).
"I don't want to embarrass the kid, but I want the big boy," Guillen said.
Jenks didn't mind.
"I think it's pretty funny," he said.
Throwing fastballs that reached 100 mph, Jenks struck out Bagwell on a 2-2 pitch, raising his right hand and pumping a fist as he came off the mound.
"He chases fastballs up," Jenks said.
Scott Podsednik (search) added an RBI triple in the eighth against Russ Springer to boost the margin, and Jenks retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out two.
Crede had broken a 3-3 tie in the fourth inning with a solo homer off Clemens' replacement, 26-year-old rookie Wandy Rodriguez (search). As the ball went just over the glove of a leaping Taveras in left-center, Crede strolled around the bases, and Chicago was truly a toddlin' town.
"You got the nerves and butterflies going in and you know what, the game starts and you calm yourself down and realize you got a job to do, and that's go out and win a ballgame," Crede said.
With the infield in, Crede sprawled to make a backhand grab on Ensberg's hard grounder with a runner at third and one out in the sixth. With runners at the corners and two outs in the seventh, he made another backhand play on Craig Biggio, in his 18th season with Houston and appearing in his first World Series game.
"They put the good wood on the ball, tough situations, and I was fortunate enough to get leather on it," Crede said.
Jermaine Dye (search) hit a solo homer for the White Sox, and Lamb hit a solo shot for the Astros.
Chicago, which has not allowed more than four runs in any of its nine postseason games, will try to try to make it 2-0 on Sunday night, when Mark Buehrle goes against Andy Pettitte, making his 11th Series start.
Clemens became the second-oldest pitcher to start a World Series game, trailing only 46-year-old Jack Quinn for the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics (search). He wasn't sharp from the start, needing 54 pitches to labor through two innings, and he appeared to be limping as he left the dugout and headed down stairs back to the clubhouse after the second.
The Rocket, who signed with Houston before the 2004 to lead his hometown team to its first World Series, allowed three runs and four hits.
Rodriguez replaced him with the score 3-3 in the middle of the third. He got into a two-on, one-out jam only to escape, but threw Crede turned on a high 0-2 pitch.
Rodriguez had control problems, walking five in 3 1-3 innings, but that was the only run he allowed.
Houston threatened to tie it in the sixth, when Taveras doubled leading off and advanced to third on a grounder. But, with the infield in, Crede dived to his right to backhand Ensberg's hard grounder and threw to first as Taveras held, and Contreras retired Lamb on a groundout.
Contreras, Clemens' teammate on the 2003 New York Yankees, became the sixth Cuban pitcher to start a World Series game. He didn't allow a run after the third.
When the World Series was last in Chicago in 1959, box seats went for $10.31, a fraction of the $185 price this year. In a town where the Cubs usually dominate, there were "Go Sox" banners over entrances of Orchestra Hall and the Art Institute of Chicago (search).
A sellout crowd of 41,206 filled U.S. Cellular Field (search), next to where the old Comiskey Park played host to the Series 46 years ago. It was 53 degrees at game time, cold enough for commissioner Bud Selig to be wearing a scarf as he watched from his front-row seat.
Players, most of them in the Series for the first time, waved to people in the stands when they lined up on the foul lines for the introductions. Many Astros watched the early innings standing on the top step of the dugout, and Rodriguez's excitement was clear when he spiked the ball across the infield after catching a relay at first to complete a 3-6-1 double play in the fifth inning.
Dye's first-inning homer to center, which came on Clemens' ninth pitch to him, was wiped out by Lamb's second-inning homer to center.
Carl Everett (search) singled leading off the bottom half, third on Aaron Rowand's (search) hit-and-run single to right and scored on A.J. Pierzynski's grounder to first, waiting for Lamb to throw to second before sprinting home and scoring with a headfirst slide. Juan Uribe's run-scoring double made it 3-1, but Berkman pulled a two-run double to right in the third that made it 3-all.
Notes: Starting in 1997, the Game 1 victor has won the World Series each year except for 2002. ... Sandy Koufax is the only Hall of Fame pitcher to end his career in the World Series. ... Pittsburgh's Bruce Kison hit three batters in Game 4 in 1971. ... Houston was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, Chicago 2-for-11.