HOUSTON (AP) – For those who fell asleep or simply weren’t watching, you missed one whale of a World Series game.

By far the longest in history – and one of the best, too.

Phil Garner threw a stool in the dugout. Ozzie Guillen called in eight relievers. And backup infielder Geoff Blum became a star in Chicago with one unlikely swing in the 14th.

Inning after inning, the tension increased as the White Sox and Astros played on. Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning, but still nobody could break through. Players grew frustrated, tired, hungry.

When it was finally over, after 5 hours, 41 minutes and a record 43 players, Chicago was one win from a sweep and its first championship since 1917.

“Right now we just want to get to bed,” slugger Paul Konerko said afterward.

In his first World Series at-bat, Blum hit a tiebreaking homer off Ezequiel Astacio, sending the White Sox to a 7-5 victory over Houston in a memorable October marathon.

“Tenacity,” Blum said. “We’re great guys in the clubhouse, but when the game starts we turn into a bunch of angry individuals.”

The teams combined to use 17 pitchers and strand 30 baserunners (15 each), both World Series records. Game 2 starter Mark Buehrle came on in relief to earn a save in Game 3.

Go find the boxscore – it could fill half a page in the newspaper.

The first World Series game in Texas ended at 1:20 a.m. local time, long after Jason Lane’s homer helped Houston build a seemingly comfortable four-run cushion for ace Roy Oswalt.

But Chicago rallied for five runs in the fifth against the NL championship series MVP, taking a 5-4 lead on A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run double that rolled up Tal’s Hill in center field.

Lane’s two-out double in the eighth off Dustin Hermanson tied it 5-all – and then the drama really began.

Brad Ausmus struck out with runners at second and third to end the inning, setting off an exasperating string of wasted scoring opportunities for the Astros.

They left the bases loaded in the ninth against Orlando Hernandez, two on in the 10th against Luis Vizcaino and stranded two more in the 11th against Bobby Jenks.

“Absolute rotten hitting,” said Garner, Houston’s manager. “We might have played 40 innings and it didn’t look (like) we were going to get a runner across.”

Both teams got this far thanks in large part to proper execution, but both failed to sacrifice successfully time and time again.

The Astros drew 12 walks in the game, but Lane’s tying double was their only hit in the final 10 innings.

“I’m really ticked off,” Garner said – and it showed when he slammed that stool after Blum’s home run.

The White Sox had plenty of chances, too, but they couldn’t capitalize until Blum, an Astro two years ago, came off the bench. He entered at second base when Guillen made a double switch in the 13th.

“You keep seeing names getting marked off and marked off the lineup card and eventually it gets down to the last guy on the totem pole. I was near the bottom,” Blum said. “We were running out of bodies on the bench. It came down to the last man standing.”

The only other Series game to go 14 innings came in 1916, when Babe Ruth pitched a complete game to lead the Boston Red Sox over Brooklyn 2-1.

Early in the 13th, this one became the longest ever by time, surpassing the 4 hours, 51 minutes from the Subway Series opener in 2000, when the New York Yankees beat the Mets in 12 innings.

The 1916 game with Ruth on the mound was over in a crisp 2:32, unthinkable these days.

There were 482 pitches, 245 by the White Sox and 237 by Houston.

For the Astros, it was one of the most gut-wrenching losses any team has endured in recent World Series history.

They had a four-run lead with Oswalt on the mound, and a victory would have put them right back in the Series with two home games remaining. Instead, they’ve used up all three aces – Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Oswalt – without a win to show for it.

Only three of the previous 21 teams that trailed 3-0 in the World Series even forced a Game 5. None made it to Game 6.

And if the Astros get wiped out in their first Fall Classic, they’ll certainly rue the long night Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

“To lose like this is draining,” Ausmus said.

AP-ES-10-26-05 1750EDT

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