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 yesterday 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.”
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 to third.
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 innings.
Uribe had an RBI single in thesixth 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.