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Missed chances haunt Houston

Missed chances haunt Astros

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HOUSTON -- Astros manager Phil Garner put it succinctly early Wednesday morning after his team lost the longest World Series game in history, a game that began in the evening hours under an open roof on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

"I have lots of emotions. I'm really ticked off," said Garner, his team having fallen into an unenviable 0-3 position with a 7-5 loss in Game 3 to the White Sox in a World Series record-tying 14 innings. "We managed to stay in the ballgame, but we might have played 40 innings and it didn't look like we were going to score a run. Very frustrating."

From the end of the third inning, the Astros sent 48 batters to the plate and had two hits -- Jason Lane's homer to lead off the fourth inning and Lane's double with two outs in the eighth that tied the score at 5 and sent the game spinning to a five-hour, 41-minute conclusion.

The Astros had runners on second and third in the eighth, the bases loaded in the ninth, first and second in the 10th, first and second in the 11th and first and third in the 14th and couldn't plate a single run.

After Lane's double, Brad Ausmus looked at a called third strike from Dustin Hermanson. With the bases loaded, Morgan Ensberg struck out swinging against a struggling Orlando Hernandez, who left the game with a stiff neck. And on and on.

"Well, it was tough," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "With the pitching both of these teams have, I thought it was going to be a lot easier. But they did everything they could. They left a lot of guys on base. So did we."

Houston's last 10 baserunners came by virtue of eight walks, a hit batter and an error.

The Astros had eight hits, seven of them in the first four innings, and wound up stranding 15 runners, the latter figure matching the White Sox.

No wonder Garner was ticked.

"I'm ticked off because we're not hitting," Garner said. "We're not getting the job done. I'd like to put on a better show. It's embarrassing to play like this in front of our hometown. It was just not a good game for us tonight."

In Game 1 on Saturday night at Chicago, the Astros were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and lost, 5-3. On Sunday in the driving rain at U.S. Cellular Park, they tied the score, 6-6, in the top of the ninth, but stranded the potential winning run on second when pinch-hitter Mike Lamb flied out. Two batters into the bottom of the inning, Brad Lidge allowed Scott Podsednik's walk-off homer.

The margin of difference in losing three games for the Astros has been five runs.

"A hit here or a hit there and we'd be leading this series 3-0," said Lane, whose homer staked the usually reliable Roy Oswalt to a 4-0 lead on Tuesday night. "We've played some good games up to this point, but we haven't played a complete game."

It was a long night in more ways than one.

"That game took a lot out of us," Lane said. "It was a grind. The guys were out there battling and we didn't get the hit when we needed it. But I thought we played tough."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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