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Astros drop Fall Classic opener

Astros drop tightly contested Game 1

CHICAGO -- Considering the way the 2005 regular season went for the Houston Astros, they weren't exactly shellshocked after their 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox in Game 1 of the World Series.

Remember, this was a team that was shut out 17 times in 2005. Missed opportunities are part of their legacy. Their inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities that were basically handed to them on a silver platter on Saturday was frustrating, but they also believe that things will still be OK.

"This team is beyond disappointment or frustration with situations like that," Lance Berkman said. "We know that we're going to give ourselves a chance to score runs, and sometimes we get it done and sometimes we don't."

The Astros managed without Roger Clemens, who departed after two innings with a strained left hamstring. But they were unable to derail Jose Contreras, not to mention relievers Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks, both of whom didn't seem affected by the two-week layoff since their last postseason appearances.

The Astros stranded six baserunners, and at the worst possible times. Only Berkman took advantage of an open opportunity, when Contreras opted to pitch to him with runners on second and third and two outs in the third. Berkman doubled to right, tying the game at 3.

The remainder of the lineup wasn't so impressive. Willy Taveras, whose star rose this year largely on his ability to bunt his way on base and run out grounders for hits, doubled to lead off two innings. The meat of the order, however, stranded him both times.

In the sixth, Taveras doubled to one of the deepest parts of the outfield at U.S. Cellular Field and moved to third on Berkman's grounder to the right side of the infield. Taveras was stranded at third when Joe Crede made a quick stab on Morgan Ensberg's hard grounder, and Mike Lamb, who homered in the first inning, grounded to second to end the frame.

In the eighth, Taveras sent a double to almost the exact same spot in the outfield. He moved to third on Berkman's base hit off Cotts to left, but the next three batters struck out. Cotts fanned Ensberg and Lamb, and designated hitter Jeff Bagwell swung and missed at a 100-mph fastball from closer Jenks.

"We had guys on third with less than two outs at least twice," Bagwell said. "We have to get those guys in. We don't score a lot of runs. We have to make sure we do the little things.


Roger Clemens' World Series starts
Roger Clemens' strained left hamstring forced his exit after two innings in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, resulting in the shortest World Series start of his career.
Season
Team
Game
Opp.
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
HR
Result
1986
BOS
2
NYM
4.1
5
3
3
4
3
0
ND
1986
BOS
6
NYM
7
4
2
1
2
8
0
ND
1999
NYY
4
ATL
7.2
4
1
1
2
4
0
W
2000
NYY
2
NYM
8
2
0
0
0
9
0
W
2001
NYY
3
ARI
7
3
1
1
3
9
0
W
2001
NYY
7
ARI
6.1
7
1
1
1
10
0
ND
2003
NYY
4
FLA
7
8
3
3
0
5
1
ND
2005
HOU
1
CWS
2
4
3
3
0
1
1
ND

 

"We all talked about that before we got here, we talked about this throughout the entire posteason. With our team, we have to get guys in when we have opportunities. That's going to happen. You can't be perfect all the time, but I'd like to have the opportunity tomorrow. Our guys will get it done."

Crede hurt the Astros twice with his glove, and the third baseman's defense had more lasting effects than his solo homer in the fourth inning that put the Sox ahead, 4-3.

Contreras hit Bagwell and Brad Ausmus with pitches in the seventh, putting runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh. Craig Biggio made solid contact on Contreras' next offering, but the ball sailed directly toward Crede, who made a flawless transfer to first for the third out.

"We had bad breaks tonight; we really did," Berkman said. "We had a couple balls hit well to third base. Crede made a couple great plays there. It really limited our scoring chances. He was responsible for cutting off two runs, so that's a tie ballgame right there, and if we were able to get the lead, who knows what would have happened."

Said Biggio: "Crede made a couple nice plays. You can't guide the ball, you can only go out and hit it."

Manager Phil Garner wasn't as irritated with the Astros' bad luck against Crede as much as he was about the way they swung in the final two frames.

"What frustrates me is five of the last six outs were strikeouts," Garner said. "Three of those strikeouts were with runners at third base. That's what we don't want to do."

Especially when the pitches are hittable, as was the one that fanned Lamb in the eighth.

"That pitch I struck out against Cotts, it was right down the middle," he said. "It was a pitch I should have hit. We missed opportunities. Story of our season."

"Hats off to their bullpen," Berkman said. "They made some great pitches. I don't think tonight was about our inability to get guys in. It was more about their bullpen making quality pitches when they had to.

"One of the storylines coming into the series was obvioulsy their 'pen hadn't pitched very much. How are they going to respond? They answered that question pretty emphatically tonight."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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