CHICAGO (AP) – The ninth inning was over.

And then it wasn’t.

And then Joe Crede gave the White Sox what is sure to go down as one of the most disputed victories in playoff history.

Given a second chance when plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three – but not the third out – Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at a game apiece.

Robb Quinlan led off the fifth inning with a homer off Mark Buehrle to tie the game at one.

The Angels, seeking a sweep of the first two games in the White Sox’s home park, managed just one hit off Buehrle in the first four innings before Quinlan connected on a drive to left. Los Angeles left-hander Jarrod Washburn, battling illness, returned to the mound and promptly made a two-base throwing error on a routine play in the first to help the White Sox take the early lead.

Washburn, who missed his turn in Game 4 of the division series against the Yankees because of a throat infection, was not completely recovered but ready to pitch.

“Wash is a little green behind the gills, still, but he’s going to be OK,” manager Mike Scioscia said before the game.

Washburn felt even worse after fielding leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik’s routine comebacker in the bottom of the first and then throwing it high over first baseman Darin Erstad’s head for a two-base error. Tadahito Iguchi sacrificed and the White Sox took their first lead of the series on Jermaine Dye’s RBI grounder to short.

Aaron Rowand nearly gave the White Sox a two-run cushion in the second when he drove a ball into the right-field corner that Vladimir Guerrero bobbled and had trouble picking up. When he did get a handle on it, his relay throw went past second and up the left-field line as Rowand was sliding into third.

Rowand got up and raced to the plate, but third baseman Quinlan retrieved the ball and made a nice throw to Jose Molina who put the tag down on Rowand’s arm for the out. The official scorer ruled a double for Rowand and an error to Guerrero for bobbling the ball.

The White Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth and drove out Washburn, who walked A.J. Pierzynski, gave up a single to Juan Uribe and then hit Iguchi with a pitch. Brendan Donnelly then struck out Dye on three pitches to end the threat.

Buehrle retired the first seven hitters before Molina reached on shortstop Juan Uribe’s error with one out in the third. But Buehrle fielded Adam Kennedy’s comebacker and started a double play to end the inning.

Buehrle made another nice play and cut short a big inning when he deflected Chone Figgins’ grounder through the box in the fourth, allowing Uribe to reach it and throw the Angels leadoff hitter out. Orlando Cabrera followed with a double down the left-field line for the Angels’ first hit and Guerrero grounded out before Buehrle plunked Bengie Molina.

With runners at first and second, Buehrle finally got Garret Anderson to ground to third after he’d fouled off three straight pitches.

After Quinlan’s game-tying homer – he plays mostly against left-handers – Erstad singled. After two runners were forced at second, a passed ball advanced Kennedy to second before Figgins sent a drive to right-center that Dye flagged down with a nice running catch.

AP-ES-10-12-05 2221EDT

CHICAGO (AP) – The ninth inning was over.

And then it wasn’t.

And then Joe Crede gave the White Sox what is sure to go down as one of the most disputed victories in playoff history.

Given a second chance when plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three – but not the third out – Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at a game apiece.

In a sequence as bizarre as any imaginable on a baseball field, A.J. Pierzynski struck out swinging against Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar, appearing to end the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 1.

Escobar’s low pitch was gloved by backup catcher Josh Paul – he appeared to grab it just before the ball would have hit the dirt. And behind him, Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his first, signaling strike three.

Pierzynski hustled and took off for first base anyway, just in case. Sure the inning was over, Paul rolled the ball out to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field, so Pierzynski was easily safe.

Then everybody stopped, including the umpires. When they let Pierzynski stay at first, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to argue.

“When he rings him up with a fist, he’s out,” Scioscia said.

The umpires huddled and upheld the call after a delay of about four minutes.

When it looked as if play was about to begin again, Scioscia came out again and Eddings consulted with third-base umpire Ed Rapuano.

The call stood, and the White Sox capitalized.

Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna quickly stole second, and Crede lined an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner for a game-winning double.

Mark Buehrle pitched a five-hitter for the first complete game of this postseason, and the White Sox bounced back from a tight loss in the opener.

“Do we feel lucky? No,” Pierzynski said. “Did they feel lucky when they won last night?”

The series shifts to Anaheim for Game 3 on Friday. The Angels were planning to finally get some sleep – but that might be difficult after losing this way.

Los Angeles arrived at its hotel in Chicago around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after crisscrossing the country while flying overnight two days in a row.

In fact, the Angels plan to bypass the conventional off-day workout Thursday in their own ballpark, choosing instead to let their players rest.

Smooth as ever, Buehrle cruised through the ninth on eight pitches, jogging over to catch Garret Anderson’s inning-ending popup himself and casually tossing the ball into the stands

Robb Quinlan homered and saved a run with a sparkling defensive play for the Angels.

Crede was doubled off second on Juan Uribe’s liner to left to end the seventh, bringing manager Ozzie Guillen charging out of the dugout to argue unsuccessfully.

With a runner on third in the eighth, Scott Podsednik caught Orlando Cabrera’s drive at the left-field wall to end the inning.

Brendan Donnelly relieved Angels starter Jarrod Washburn with the bases loaded in the fifth and fanned Jermaine Dye on three pitches to thwart a threat.

Washburn, coming off a throat infection and fever, allowed only an unearned run and four hits, keeping his team close.

Working quickly as always, Buehrle faced the minimum until Cabrera’s one-out double in the fourth. The AL starter in this year’s All-Star game, he was 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA at home and beat Boston in Game 2 of the division series.

Buehrle and Washburn are quite familiar with each other – this was their seventh career matchup.

Washburn was scratched from his scheduled start in the first round because of his illness, calling it “torture” to have to watch the final two games on television.

He sat alone in a back room at Angel Stadium as his teammates eliminated the Yankees in Game 5, a makeshift quarantine so he wouldn’t infect anybody.

When everyone else popped the champagne, Washburn guzzled Gatorade.

Scioscia said Wednesday his starter was still “a little green behind the gills.” Washburn went to the mound anyway, pitching for the first time in 11 days.

He normally does his best work on the road, but he looked shaky at the start, inexplicably throwing away Podsednik’s leadoff comebacker for a two-base error.

Tadahito Iguchi’s sacrifice drew a roar from the crowd of 41,013 – Chicago fans are gaga for Guillen’s small-ball style. Plus, failed bunt attempts cost the White Sox in Game 1.

Dye’s RBI groundout gave Chicago its first lead of the series.

Then came a wild play in the second. Aaron Rowand doubled into the right-field corner and turned for third when a hobbling Vladimir Guerrero bobbled the ball for an error.

Rowand slid safely into third as Guerrero’s long throw skidded through the infield. With the crowd screaming, third-base coach Joey Cora leaned down to holler at Rowand, wave him to his feet and send him home.

But Quinlan made an outstanding play, dashing up the left-field line to chase down the ball with a slide. He popped to his feet and fired to the plate, just in time for catcher Jose Molina to reach and tag Rowand as he dived headfirst.

Quinlan, starting at third to provide another right-handed bat against Buehrle, connected in the fifth for his first career postseason homer, tying the score at 1.

Notes: SS Uribe made a fine play to rob Guerrero of a first-inning hit for the second consecutive night. … Bengie Molina, serving as the DH to give him a break from catching, was hit by a pitch in the knee. … Washburn has not allowed a stolen base all year. … Angels reliever Scot Shields threw a perfect sixth.

AP-ES-10-12-05 2342EDT

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