Astros ace Roy Oswalt was in command with a 4-0 lead as a sellout crowd of 42,848 at Minute Maid Park was abuzz with what seemed certain to be a Houston victory in Game 3 of the 101st World Series.
Then the wheels fell off in a hurry.
For the third straight game, the Astros squandered a lead as the Chicago White Sox hung a five-run fifth on Oswalt to turn the game around. The White Sox went on to win, 7-5, in 14 innings in the longest game in World Series history and put Houston on the brink of elimination.
"There really wasn't any reason for [the big inning]," Oswalt said. "Nothing was wrong, maybe I tried to be a little too fine. I left a few pitches up, they flared a few here and there, and they capitalized on them. They're doing everything right."
Between Joe Crede's leadoff homer in the fifth that put the White Sox on the board and Juan Uribe's flyout to right to end the fifth, the White Sox sent 11 men to the plate. They scored five runs on six hits in the frame. That's more than double the runs Oswalt allowed and just one shy of the hits the right-hander gave up in the entire National League Championship Series.
"I just didn't want to get behind guys with guys on, especially with a 4-0 lead," Oswalt said.
Houston's 20-game winner refused to blame plate umpire Jerry Layne's strike zone, missed opportunities or anything but himself for his disappointing performance.
"A few pitches that could have gone either way," Oswalt said. "But that's baseball."
His line was a forgettable five runs on eight hits with five walks and three strikeouts in six-plus innings.
Oswalt left the game following a four-pitch walk to Paul Konerko leading off the seventh.
The five runs the right-hander allowed were the most he's surrendered at Minute Maid Park this season since Opening Day, when he allowed six in as many innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Oswalt hadn't given up this many runs in a game since an Aug. 27 start at Los Angeles, when the Dodgers raked him for seven runs on nine hits in four innings.
Crede's ball was hit very hard. Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik, Tadahito Iguchi and Jermaine Dye contributed singles, but didn't exactly crush the balls they hit. A.J. Pierzynski's two-run double was the big blow of the inning.
"I thought on the ball that Dye hit that [Astros center fielder] Willy [Taveras] was going to catch it and double up Podsednik since he was around third, but it was able to fall in," Oswalt said. "[The White Sox] did a good job, they're scratching out runs, coming from behind. They've played good ballgames."
Oswalt, the MVP of the NLCS, received no decision after the Astros rallied to tie the game. Watching from the dugout and clubhouse was tough for him to swallow, especially when the Astros came up short.
"I won't go home and look at myself any different. I gave 100 percent," Oswalt said. "[I] just didn't get it done tonight, that's all."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.