Baseball: Unsung hero Blum edges White Sox towards world crown after epic victory

In a marathon lasting five hours and 41 minutes, the Sox disposed of the Houston Astros 7-5, decided by a pinch hit solo homer by the hitherto unknown utility player Geoff Blum at the top of the 14th inning. The Astros pitcher Ezequiel Astacio handed them another run by issuing a bases-loaded walk later in the innings, before Chicago's Mark Buerhle struck out the last Houston hitter to wrap up the game.

"I can't believe it," a dazed Blum said. "You sit around for 14 innings and then something like this happens - it's unbelievable."

The real turning point came in the top of the fifth inning when the Sox at last caught up with Roy Oswalt, the Astros' seemingly invincible starter. Chicago managed six hits, and a 4-0 deficit turned into a 5-4 lead. An inning later, Oswalt was gone, and Chicago rolled closer to a date with destiny.

But for the Astros, it was a wretched night of anaemic hitting and squandering what few chances fell their way. In the last seven innings, Houston were handed nine walks, but managed just one hit. Their manager, Phil Garner, was almost apoplectic: "It was absolutely rotten. We might have played 40 innings and not got a run across. It's embarrassing to play like this in front of our home town."

In this magical post season, the Sox have a 10-1 record, after sweeping the Boston Red Sox and crushing the Los Angeles Angels. Their 3-0 lead over Houston left them poised to clinch the Series in last night's Game Four. But even if they were to lose, the ultimate outcome looks certain.

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