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Garland throttles Angels in Game 3

Garland throttles Angels in Game 3

ANAHEIM -- Scott Podsednik, Aaron Rowand and Jermaine Dye could be excused if they felt a little unappreciated during Friday's 5-2 victory over the Angels at Angel Stadium in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

Rowand and Dye each had only two chances while roaming the White Sox outfield, and Podsednik didn't get into the action until grabbing a Chone Figgins fly ball with one out in the sixth. Such are the trials and tribulations for outfielders when a sinkerball pitcher such as Jon Garland is on his game as he was during his first start in almost two weeks.

But a funny thing was revealed after Garland's sensational complete-game effort, in which he retired 10 hitters via the ground ball. The right-hander, who had a breakout campaign in 2005 with a single-season high of 18 victories, didn't really make much use of his out-pitch on this evening.

Not after being on the sideline since Oct. 1. Not with the chance that Garland could feel too strong on the mound, the polar opposite feeling Garland usually needs to be successful. Whatever the plan, Garland had more than enough to give the White Sox a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven ALCS and assure the visitors a trip back to Chicago, at the absolute worst.

Garland, who grew up within an hour's drive of Angel Stadium, allowed Orlando Cabrera's two-run home run in the sixth and three other hits over nine innings, striking out seven and walking one. The three White Sox starting pitchers in this series have combined to issue one free pass in 26 1/3 innings.

In regard to Garland's dominant performance on Friday, though, there didn't seem to be enough time before the postgame bus left for the team hotel for his teammates to express their admiration.

"He was outstanding," said White Sox designated hitter Carl Everett, who singled home Tadahito Iguchi with the team's fourth run in the third. "For a guy who hasn't pitched in 12 days and a sinkerballer on top of that, he stayed within himself. He's that cool guy, anyway, but I'm proud of him."

"Flawless," Podsednik continued. "It was fun to watch."

"I thought he threw the way he's been throwing," added catcher A.J. Pierzynski of his batterymate. "When he's on, he's tough. Tonight, he had all his pitches going."

That repertoire included an outstanding changeup, a slider and even a cutter thrown inside to left-handed hitters. The key to having Garland ready after the 13-day break, according to pitching coach Don Cooper, was advanced preparation and a little built-in fatigue.

There was a 75-pitch simulated game for Garland last Sunday. That effort was followed by his normal side session two days later.

Offensive support for Garland came early, but not very often, which is a common trait shown by the top team record-wise in the American League. Podsednik opened the game against John Lackey with a line single to right and quickly moved to second on Iguchi's sacrifice bunt.

Dye's hard-hit double to right-center scored Podsednik, setting the table for Paul Konerko. The White Sox cleanup hitter worked the count full before driving his third home run in six postseason games over the wall in left-center.

The energy and animosity shown by the Angels fans toward umpire Doug Eddings and even Pierzynski, following Wednesday's strange ending to Game 2 of the series, was quickly converted to silence by the White Sox. With Garland on his game, the White Sox needed only to build a little more on this solid foundation.

"We have a good lineup, but we are not the '27 Yankees," Pierzynski said. "We have to find a way to scratch and claw and score enough runs. To score three runs in the first off of Lackey, you don't see that a lot. We took them and ran from there."

Following Mark Buehrle's performance on Wednesday, Garland posted the first back-to-back complete games in League Championship Series play since Florida's Livan Hernandez (Game 5) and Kevin Brown (Game 6) defeated the Braves in 1997. It's the first time in the ALCS since Tommy John (Game 1) and Bruce Kison (Game 2) did the job for the California Angels in 1982.

Not only was Garland sharp but the adrenaline also produced a little extra burst of velocity. He hit 95 mph on the radar gun early in the game and was still reaching 94 in the eighth, according to Pierzynski, while he was amassing 118 pitches.

And very few of those pitches were his sinker.

"I stayed away from it," Garland said. "I was feeling strong, and I was throwing the pitches inside on these guys. It worked early on, so I stayed with it throughout the game.

"To be able to come into my first postseason game, come on the West Coast, where we haven't had too much success over the past few years, and be able to do that for my team, it's something I'll remember," Garland added.

The White Sox now have a 6-15 record in Anaheim since 2001, but they are 1-0 in postseason action at Angel Stadium. They have a shot at a second straight victory Saturday, but that's as far as the South Siders will look.

In a battle this evenly matched, the series can change in one inning or even on one play.

"Everyone is talking six more wins," White Sox center fielder Rowand said. "We need to look at one more win, and that's [Saturday's] game."

"You have the two best teams in the American League," Podsednik added. "This thing will be a dogfight until the end, and we knew that coming in."

Scott Merkin 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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