- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

BOSTON — Say it is so, Chicago: The White Sox swept away the champion Red Sox, and now they’ll try to purge the memory of the notorious Black Sox.

Orlando Hernandez pitched out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam, and Paul Konerko hit a tiebreaking homer as Chicago beat Boston 5-3 yesterday 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, 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 lived with a longer but lesser-known “curse” than the supposed one the Red Sox busted when they ended their 86-year drought last season.

“Finally, we make another big step,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They have waited a long time for this moment. And this team is making it happen this year.”

The White Sox, who let Cleveland erase most of a 15-game lead in the AL Central, will have home-field advantage in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Angels.

“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.

“Everybody that was on that team can take that to their grave,” Wakefield said, referring to Boston’s improbable run last October.

The Red Sox cut it to 4-3 when Manny Ramirez 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 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.

“You never get used to it,” said Hernandez, who is 9-3 in the postseason and was on the mound to finish off the Red Sox for the Yankees in the 1999 ALCS. “People think just because you’ve done it in the past, you’ll do it again. It’s all about situations. … The most important thing is to have a little bit of good luck.”

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 last night.

The Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs before Curt Schilling even got a chance to pitch. The star of the 2004 postseason was scheduled to start today in Game 4.

“We wanted to close it out today. You don’t want to give the ball to Schilling tomorrow,” Konerko said. “Who knows what he can do? We’ve seen his act. He’s pitched pretty well in the playoffs, so we didn’t want to go there.”

On a windy and overcast day with rain threatening to extend the series but the White Sox dead-set on finishing it, the AL Central champions 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 wild-card 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.

“I know all of us enjoyed it,” Damon said. “There were tons of books and DVDs that made it seem it was easy to accomplish. It wasn’t.”

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