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Execution costs South Siders

Execution costs South Siders

CHICAGO -- Pitching plus execution has equaled wins for the White Sox from the start of the season to the sweep of the Red Sox in the American League Division Series. But in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels, half of the equation was missing, and the result was a 3-2 loss.

White Sox starter Jose Contreras did his part with 8 1/3 strong innings. Guess which part didn't add up?

"We have the type of team that executes all the time and that's our game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We failed today at moving the guys over. You know, we don't do the job and when we fail doing that, it's hard for us to win. We don't have the type of team that's going to score 20 runs."

The White Sox, like the Angels, managed seven hits in the game and left six runners on base to the Angels' four. Additionally, the home team went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The Angels were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"This wasn't our best game execution-wise, which isn't good," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "A positive we can take out of it is that I didn't think we played well at all, but we lost by a run. So I feel if we shore up those things and tighten up our game a little bit, it will be better for us. That's what we do, that's why we're here, we've been successful doing that all year and so have they. They were just better at it."

Even when the White Sox tried to rally, they were cut short. Chicago runners were caught attempting to steal second base twice -- Scott Podsednik in the fifth inning and A.J. Pierzynski in the seventh -- by Angels catcher Bengie Molina. Pierzynski thought it was a hit-and-run. Guillen said he misread a sign. Either way, Molina made the White Sox pay.

"Molina is the best catcher in baseball. There's no doubt about it," Guillen said. "This kid is not wearing the glove just because. His pitching staff is doing really well, and to me, there's no better defense right now as a catcher in the American League than him."

The White Sox had their chances -- early and late.

In the third inning, following Joe Crede's home run to cut the lead to 3-1, Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi hit consecutive singles with two outs. Jermaine Dye fouled out to end the frame.

In the eighth, Juan Uribe singled up the middle with the club still trailing by one run. Podsednik was unable to move Uribe to second base on two bunt attempts and eventually struck out. Iguchi followed with weak fly that barely reached Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera for the second out.

Dye reached via a single, but Konerko flied out to shallow center field to end the inning and squash the scoring threat.

In the ninth, Carl Everett reached base on an error by Angels third baseman Chone Figgins, but pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna was forced out at second base when Aaron Rowand's bunt was hit too hard at Figgins. Figgins fired to second base for the out and Rowand was nearly thrown out at first to complete the double play.

A five-pitch inning by Angels starter Paul Byrd in the sixth did not help.

"We had a couple of chances to get out bunts down. They got their bunts down and we didn't," Pierzynski said. "In tight games like that, the way the pitching was going, it ends up being a big thing. That one inning when they scored the two runs on a couple of fielder's choices that needed to be hit harder and they weren't. Give them credit. They got their runners home."

Crede got the White Sox on the board with a home run in the bottom of the third. In the fourth, Everett hit a single and came home on a single by Pierzynski to cut the Angels' lead to one run, 3-2.

The White Sox would not score again.

"It's the first game in a long series," Dye said. "We hit the ball hard, it was just right at people. We need to continue to work, keep our heads up and get ready for tomorrow."

Jesse Sanchez 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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