Chicago looks for another sweep of its 2005 World Series opponent when the teams close out a weekend series at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday.
Joe Crede hit a game-tying grand slam off of Chad Qualls’ first pitch in the seventh inning and Alex Cintron drove in the winning run in the 10th, as the White Sox (49-25) defeated the Astros 6-5 on Saturday.
Crede’s second slam in seven games was reminiscent of Paul Konerko’s shot off of Qualls’ first pitch that gave the White Sox a 7-6 win in Game 2. Chicago swept Houston to win its first championship in 88 years.
“Paul actually mentioned something to me in the dugout after I hit it,” Crede said. “He said, `You know the last two (first) pitches that this guy has thrown in this stadium have gone for grand slams.”’
Chicago will go for the sweep and go for its first 10-game winning streak since May 18-26, 1976, when it sends Javier Vazquez (8-4, 4.43 ERA) to the mound.
The right-hander hopes to avoid losing his fifth consecutive start against the Astros with his last win over them coming on April 30, 2002, while with the Montreal Expos.
With a win, Vazquez would join Freddy Garcia as the second nine-game winner on the White Sox. Vazquez had perhaps the easiest outing of his career, allowing two runs and seven hits Tuesday in Chicago’s 20-6 rout of St. Louis.
The White Sox are 13-5 against Houston overall, including the World Series, with nine games decided by two runs or less.
The Astros (37-38) will counter with Roy Oswalt (6-3, 3.32), who may be looking for some revenge against the White Sox
The right-hander last faced them in Game 3 of the 2005 Fall Classic, and surrendered five runs and eight hits—including a home run by Crede—over six innings of the Astros’ 7-5 loss in 14 innings.
Oswalt gave up four runs in eight innings, with three runs coming in the seventh, during a 6-5, 10-inning loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
“One bad inning killed me,” Oswalt said. “It shouldn’t happen. I get through that inning, maybe I could pitch for the whole game. It was just lack of concentration on my part.”
Astros second baseman Craig Biggio is expected to return to the lineup as a designated hitter for this contest after sitting out Saturday with a sore shoulder.
The club’s all-time hits leader (2,868) is batting .272 with six homers, 27 RBIs and leads the team with 24 doubles this season.
Houston hopes his return will help the team turn things around, as they have stumbled against AL Central opponents with just two wins in the last eight games, including series losses to the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota.
Houston starts a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.