January 11, 2006
Battle of Champions
Chicago White Sox @ Chiba Lotte Marines, Game 5read the series preview.
Stay tuned for the Battle of Champions wrap-up on Thursday.
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CHIBA CITY, JAPAN (BP) - The Chicago White Sox are World Champions. To some, that was never in question. To Bobby Valentine, they needed to get by him before laying claim to that title.
After defeating the Chiba Lotte Marines four games to one, the White Sox have once again claimed that title. They can also claim the flamboyant, sushi-crusted Battle of Champions Victory Belt.
Jose Contreras, fully recovered from his Game 1 thrashing, exacted his revenge on Shunsuke Watanabe and the Chiba Lotte Marines. Chicago cruised to a 5-2 victory and mobbed the infield as a morose crowd began draining out from Chiba Marine Stadium.
Sparked by the speed of Scott Podsednik, the White Sox grabbed an early lead and never let go. After leading off the game with a single, Podsednik bolted for second on the first pitch and later scored on a Jermaine Dye single. Carl Everett's two-out double to left center sent Dye dashing plateward for a 2-0 cushion.
Chicago's lineup dropped hits with abundance, but their sluggish baserunning squandered several opportunities. In the second inning, Saburo Ohmura gunned down Joe Crede, trying to score from second on Juan Uribe's single. With a timely pitchout, Tasuku Hashimoto nailed Uribe at second to end the threat. Later, Everett was caught at home tagging up on a flyout by Crede.
Chiba Lotte's third-inning rally nearly tied the game. Koichi Hori muscled a double to the left field gap, easily scoring Toshiaki Imae and Hashimoto, who had both managed infield singles. Trailing 3-2 with just one out, the Marines couldn't unshackle Hori from second base. It was their final trace of offense. No Lotte runner passed first base the rest of the game, and White Sox pitchers faced just 19 batters over the final six innings.
Hits by Dye and A.J. Pierzynski tacked on runs in the fifth and sixth, respectively, and Chicago carried its 5-2 lead to the finish line.
While Watanabe (1-1) was walloped for 13 hits and all five runs, he delivered his trademark control and walked no one. Yasuhiko Yabuta replaced Watanabe after seven frames and faced the minimum six White Sox in his two innings of work.
Contreras (1-1) lasted eight innings and struck out five, allowing just five hits, two runs, and a walk. Bobby Jenks sawed through the heart of the Marines lineup for his second save of the series. He froze Kazuya Fukuura and Ohmura on called third strikes before Matt Franco's easy grounder ended the game. Tadahito Iguchi fielded it cleanly on two hops, and underhanded the ball to Paul Konerko.
Podsednik went 4-for-5, scored three times, and stole three bases. Three hits were also chipped in by Pierzynski (two doubles) and Everett, whose 5-for-5 streak from Game 5 was extended to 8-for-8 with a sixth-inning single.
The victory caps a formidable run of success for the White Sox. They swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the Houston Astros in the World Series, while dropping just one game to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League Championship Series and Game 1 of the Battle of Champions.
Chiba Lotte entered the series with similar recent success, having lost just one game in three rounds of the Japanese playoffs. They swept the Hanshin Tigers in the Nippon Series--and outscored them 33-4--but Chicago proved too difficult an opponent.
The Battle of Champions Most Valuable Player award will be announced tomorrow.
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Chicago White Sox win Battle of Champions, 4-1
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