CHICAGO (AP) -- The winning socks came from the White Sox. Now,
maybe it's their turn to end a long championship drought.
A.J. Pierzynski homered twice, Paul Konerko, Juan Uribe and even
Scott Podsednik also connected, and Chicago scored five times in
the first inning Tuesday en route to a 14-2 rout of the World
Series champion Red Sox in their playoff opener.
Jose Contreras pitched effectively into the eighth inning,
ending Boston's eight-game postseason winning streak that carried
the team to its first title in 86 years last season.
The White Sox hope to end a drought that's even longer, dating
way back to the days of Shoeless Joe Jackson and their most recent
World Series crown in 1917, the last time they won any playoff
series at all.
One sign in the stands summed up hopes on the South Side:
"2004: Their Sox. 2005: Our Sox."
Then again, Boston has done fine overcoming October deficits.
The Red Sox rallied from 3-0 down to beat the New York Yankees in
the AL championship series last year before sweeping St. Louis in
the World Series for their first title since 1918.
The White Sox got their first playoff victory since 1993 with a
stunning display of power.
Pierzynski's three-run homer off Matt Clement capped Chicago's
first-inning outburst and sent a raucous, towel-waving crowd of
40,717 into delirium.
Konerko added a solo shot in the third and Uribe a two-run drive
to finish Clement in the fourth. Podsednik, Chicago's speedy
leadoff hitter who didn't have a homer all season, hit a three-run
shot off Jeremi Gonzalez in the sixth. Pierzynski connected again
in the eighth.
Contreras, who was 2-4 with an 11.67 ERA in his career against
the Red Sox, allowed eight hits and two runs in 7 2/3 innings in
his first playoff start.
Clement, who lost three of his final five regular-season starts,
struggled with his control at the outset, hitting Podsednik and
Jermaine Dye with pitches.
Podsednik stole third and after Konerko sent a long drive to
left that was foul, he put the White Sox ahead with an RBI grounder
Carl Everett followed with a single before Aaron Rowand sent an
RBI single over shortstop for a 2-0 lead. The din increased moments
later when Pierzynski, a veteran of playoff games with Minnesota,
lined his three-run homer to left-center.
Trot Nixon singled in the fourth and, after Jason Varitek
dropped down a bunt for another hit, Chicago third baseman Joe
Crede kicked the ball as he was trying to pick it up and both
runners advanced on the error.
Contreras, who tied teammate Freddy Garcia with an AL-leading 20
wild pitches this season, unleashed another as Nixon scored. Kevin
Millar followed with a double to right and the Red Sox were
seemingly back in the game at 6-2.
But Chicago second baseman Tadahito Ighuchi made a heads-up play
on Bill Mueller's grounder, making a rare throw from second to
third to cut down Millar and douse the rally.
And after Pierzynski doubled to start the fourth, Uribe drove a
pitch over the fence in left, giving the White Sox a six-run
cushion and finishing Clement's miserable day after just 3 1/3
Uribe had an RBI single in the sixth before Podsednik connected.
Pierzynski hit his second homer off Bronson Arroyo. He is the
second White Sox player to homer twice in a postseason game,
joining Ted Kluszewski, who hit two against the Dodgers in Game 1
of the 1959 World Series.
Pinch-hitter Willie Harris added an RBI single in the eighth.
Injured White Sox star Frank Thomas threw out the first
pitch and got a rousing ovation. ... Umpire Larry Vanover,
scheduled to work first base in the opener, was replaced by Mark
Carlson. Vanover has a bad back. Carlson umpired third and Bill
Miller switched from third to first. ... The White Sox got their
first playoff victory at U.S. Cellular Field, which opened as new
Comiskey Park in 1991. They lost three games at home to Toronto in
the 1993 ALCS and two to Seattle in the 2000 ALDS. It was their
first home playoff win since Game 1 of the 1959 World Series. ...
The Red Sox are in the playoffs as the AL wild card for the third
straight year. They've qualified as a wild card five times overall.
... Pierzynski has four career postseason homers. ... The five-run
first matched the second-biggest inning in White Sox postseason
history. The biggest came in the '59 World Series when the White
Sox scored seven times in third inning of Game 1. ... Manny Ramirez's 17-game postseason hitting streak was snapped.