HOUSTON - The Chicago White Sox.
The Boston Red Sox.
Can the Cubs be far behind?
Their cross-town rivals became the latest long-suffering team to celebrate a World Series championship for the first time since World War I, beating the Houston Astros 1-0 Wednesday night for a four-game sweep.
If that sounds familiar, it is.
Just a year ago, the same story line captivated baseball when the Red Sox swept St. Louis to capture their first title in 86 years.
That leaves only one team with a similar epic streak of futility — the Cubs, losers since 1908.
For now, though, the Windy City can celebrate the White Sox, the team from the South Side who hadn’t won a Series since 1917 and hadn’t played in one since 1959. No longer will they be remembered for Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Sox, who threw the 1919 Series against Cincinnati, but rather as champions — improbable as that might seem.
“It’s unbelievable, unbelievable,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
In the Second City, where the Cubs have long been king, the AL team for once trumped their North Side NL rival, no small feat for the Sox.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf once said he’d trade all six of the Chicago Bulls’ NBA titles for a single Series ring. No swap is needed now: He’s got the prize he dreamed of since he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said during the regular season that he might retire if his team went on to win the Series. But now, after Jermaine Dye’s RBI single in the eighth and a five-hit shutout by four pitchers completed the sweep, he wants to stick around to manage the American League in next summer’s All-Star game.
“Hopefully I’ll be the first Latino (manager) to win an All-Star game,” he said.
Chicago’s sweep, its eighth straight postseason win and 16th in 17 games overall, made it only the second team to go through the postseason 11-1 since the extra round of playoffs was added in 1995, joining the 1999 Yankees. But the White Sox fans didn’t get to enjoy a single celebration in person: The division title and all three rounds of the postseason were won on the road, a baseball first.
“I wish we were in Chicago tonight,” Reinsdorf said.
As players celebrated in the infield, toddlers in the White Sox delegation ran up “Tal’s Hill” in deep center. One young girl in pink did cartwheels on the warning track.
Houston, which finally won a pennant for the first time since it joined the National League in 1962, became the first team swept in its Series debut.
“They played well all year long,” Astros manager Phil Garner said of the White Sox. “They played well against us. They deserve to be world champions this year.”
Winner Freddy Garcia and Houston’s Brandon Backe pitched shutout ball for seven innings, with Backe allowing four hits and Garcia five. They each struck out seven.
Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
Jermaine Dye of the White Sox hits a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth inning that proved to be the game-winning hit in a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the World Series.
Brad Lidge, Houston’s closer, came in to start the eighth, and Chicago sent up Willie Harris to bat for Garcia.
Harris lined a single to left leading off, Scott Podsednik bunted a difficult high pitch in front of the plate and the speedy Harris took second on the sacrifice. Carl Everett pinch hit for Tadahito Iguchi and grounded to second, moving Harris to third.
Dye, the Series MVP, swung and missed Lidge’s next pitch, took a ball, then grounded a single up the middle, clapping his hands as he left the plate. Harris trotted home from third, and the White Sox celebrated in the third-base dugout.
“I know he throws a lot of sliders,” Dye said. “He throws hard but usually his fastball is just to keep you honest.”
But it wasn’t quite over yet.
Cliff Politte relieved to start the bottom half and hit Willy Taveras on the hand with one out. Politte bounced a wild pitch on his first offering to Lance Berkman, moving Taveras to second, then intentionally walked Berkman, nearly throwing away the next pitch.
Morgan Ensberg flied to right-center, dropping him to 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the Series, and Chicago brought in left-hander Neal Cotts to face pinch-hitter Jose Vizcaino, who hit a broken-bat grounder to shortstop.
Juan Uribe charged in, backhanded the ball by the grass and threw hard to first, beating Vizcaino by half a step.
Add another near miss in this 2013 baseball season - this time it was Detroit's Anibal Sanchez falling just short of a no-hitter.
White Sox win!
Click to see images from Chicago's sweep of Houston Astros in 2005 World Series.
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