White Sox 6, Angels 5
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Chicago White Sox swept the Angels in Anaheim once again.
Pablo Ozuna scored the go-ahead run on Scot Shields’ ninth-inning wild pitch, and the White Sox beat Los Angeles 6-5 Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the team they defeated in the AL championship series.
“They have a very complete team, and it’s going to be a challenge for any team to dethrone them,” Shields said. “I hope we’re up to the challenge.”
Chris Widger drove in two runs for the defending World Series champions, who swept a regular-season series in Anaheim for the first time since August 1994. Chicago, which won three straight in Anaheim for the AL pennant last fall, tied a franchise record with its 17th victory in April.
“The way we started, we thought it was going to be a real tough April, but it’s turned out OK,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We’ve performed real well, even though the pitching staff has not been consistent—except for a couple of guys.
“We faced teams we did not have success against in the past and we started slow. Coming out to the West Coast hasn’t been easy for us in the past, but we’ve picked it up little by little. And with the pitching staff we have, we know that we have a chance to win every time we take the field.”
Widger, who entered 1-for-13 this season, led off the ninth with a single against Shields (1-2), and Ozuna ran for him. Ozuna stole second, advanced on Scott Podsednik’s sacrifice and scored when Shields bounced a pitch past rookie catcher Jeff Mathis.
“I was trying to go low and away with the fastball, ended up throwing it in the dirt and inside, and gave Jeff no chance at blocking it,” Shields said. “It’s a hard way to get the loss. I’d much rather have given up a hit right there and have them beat me than beat myself.”
Orlando Cabrera was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for the Angels, who had won 39 of their previous 54 regular-season home games against the White Sox prior to this year.
The White Sox, who set a major league record last season by taking a lead in each of their first 37 games, have had a lead in all but two en route to a 17-7 start.
“There definitely is a target on us, but we haven’t let anything bother us,” starting pitcher Jon Garland said. “We’ve had other players and other managers saying stuff about our team, but the guys have stayed focused and we’ve been played consistent baseball and doing the right things.”
Garland allowed five runs and five hits in seven innings. Last year, the right-hander became the first White Sox pitcher since 1935 to win his first eight starts of the season before the Angels beat him in his next outing. Garland lost to them again in September, but responded a month later with a four-hitter in his first career postseason start.
Chicago tied it at 5 in the sixth against Ervin Santana. Joe Crede and Rob Mackowiak hit consecutive doubles, Juan Uribe had a sacrifice bunt and Widger added a sacrifice fly. Santana allowed five runs and eight hits in seven innings.
The Angels took a 5-3 lead in the fifth on Chone Figgins’ sacrifice fly and a two-out, two-run homer by Cabrera on the next pitch. It was the fourth home run this season for Cabrera, who is 9-for-19 against Garland.
“I wish Cabrera wasn’t in the lineup because he owns me right now,” Garland said.
“All in all, it was a good month,” Konerko said. “I mean, you can’t win anything early in the season, so you just try not to shoot yourself in the foot and get off to a real bad start that can cost you. For most of the month we weren’t hitting on all cylinders, but we still picked up some wins when we needed to.”
After the game, the Angels optioned OF Reggie Willits to Triple-A Salt Lake and recalled RHP Chris Bootcheck. … Chicago RF Jermaine Dye, the World Series MVP, left in the fifth because of a sore left calf muscle. … Scioscia picked RHP Kevin Gregg to start Thursday at Detroit in place of RHP Kelvim Escobar, who was knocked out of Saturday night’s start in the fifth inning because of a blood blister on his middle finger. … Crede was 3-for-3 after getting hit by a pitch his first time up.