BOSTON – Orlando Hernandez (search) delivered a vintage performance out of the bullpen and Paul Konerko hit a tiebreaking homer as Chicago White Sox beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 Friday to sweep the defending World Series champs out of the playoffs and win a postseason series for the first time since Shoeless Joe Jackson's team won it all way back in 1917.
Two years later, some of Jackson's "Black Sox" took payoffs from gamblers to throw the Series. Eight men were out, banned from baseball for life, and every White Sox player since has persevered under a longer but lesser-known curse than the one the Red Sox busted when they ended their 86-year drought last season.
Now, Chicago will have home-field advantage in the AL championship series against the New York Yankees (search) or Los Angeles Angels (search).
"We're not done. I don't think we're satisfied," Konerko said. "I think we match up well in this next series with anybody."
Boston had hoped for its first repeat titles since 1915-16, but for the second time in three years its season ended thanks to a Tim Wakefield knuckleball that went over a left-field wall.
The Red Sox (search) cut it to 4-3 when Manny Ramirez (search) led off the sixth with his second homer of the game, then they loaded the bases — still with none out. But Hernandez got pinch-hitter Jason Varitek and Game 2 goat Tony Graffanino to pop up to the infield, then Johnny Damon struck out on a check swing to end the inning.
"He's probably got the most heart of any pitcher I've ever been around. That's the story of the night for me," Konerko said. "Bases loaded, no outs against the best offense in the major leagues and he comes out of it."
Graffanino, whose error before Tadahito Iguchi's three-run homer was the difference in a 5-4 loss on Wednesday night, fouled off four pitches with two strikes; Damon also worked the count full, but Hernandez got him on a pitch in the dirt.
El Duque shut out the Red Sox on one hit over three innings, and Juan Uribe's suicide squeeze made it 5-3 in the ninth. Rookie closer Bobby Jenks got three outs to save it for winner Freddy Garcia.
The White Sox lost in the '19 and '59 Series and the '83, '93 and 2000 playoffs. With the three-game sweep, they are the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs, where they will play the winner of the Angels-Yankees series that was tied 1-1 heading into Friday night.
Say it IS so.
"I feel great, we beat those guys," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Coming to Boston is not an easy thing to do."
The Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs before Curt Schilling even got a chance to pitch.
On a windy and overcast day with rain threatening to extend the series but the White Sox dead-set on finishing it, Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the third with four consecutive hits off Wakefield — doubles by Uribe and Scott Podsednik and singles by Iguchi and Jermaine Dye.
David Ortiz and Ramirez hit consecutive homers in the fourth to tie it, then Garcia escaped in the fifth after Damon doubled with two outs and Edgar Renteria walked. With Ortiz on deck and the crowd in a full-throated "M-V-P!" chant, pitching coach Don Cooper came out to the mound to settle his pitcher.
Ortiz swung at the first pitch and hit it hard to straightaway center field but, unlike his first homer, the wind wasn't able to carry this one. Aaron Rowand gathered it in a few steps in front of the wall, about 400 feet from home plate.
The Red Sox didn't homer in the first two games while Chicago hit six — five in a 14-2 win in the opener — to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. But Ramirez hit his 19th and 20th career postseason home runs, passing Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle and second only to Bernie Williams (22); in Mantle's time, there was no league championship series and Jackson played in the era before wild-card teams.
The Red Sox had won eight of their last nine games when facing elimination, rallying from an 0-2 deficit against the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2003 playoffs and then beating the Yankees in four straight last year en route to their first World Series title since 1918. .