CHICAGO -- The Angels were certain they were headed to extra innings.
So while third-string catcher Josh Paul and his Los Angeles teammates ran off the field Wednesday night, Pierzynski took off for first base, triggering what is sure to go down as one of the most disputed endings in postseason history.
Given a second chance when umpire Doug Eddings called strike three - but not the third out - Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 on Joe Crede's two-out double in the ninth to even the best-of-seven AL championship series at a game apiece.
"I didn't do anything," Pierzynski said. "I struck out."
Sure, but that's not what fans will remember for years to come.
In a sequence as bizarre as any imaginable on a baseball field, Pierzynski swung at and missed a low pitch from Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar, appearing to end the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 1.
The ball was gloved by Paul -- replays appeared to show he caught it cleanly just before it would have hit the dirt. And behind him, Eddings clearly raised his right arm and closed his fist, signaling strike three.
"When he rings him up with a fist, he's out," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said.
Being a catcher -- Scioscia was one, too -- Pierzynski knew to play it all the way through, just in case. He twirled around and hustled to first.
"I thought for sure the ball hit the ground. I watched the replay 50 times and I still don't know. The third strike is in the dirt, you run," Pierzynski said. "I didn't hear him say out, Josh didn't tag me."
In fact, Eddings was silent.
"I did not say, 'No catch,"' said Eddings, a major-league umpire since 1999 who is working his third postseason assignment. "I'm watching Josh Paul, seeing what he's going to do."
After the game, Eddings watched several replays and stood by his call.
"We saw it on a couple different angles, the ball changes directions," Eddings said. "I had questions. I didn't have him catching the ball."
Positive the inning was over, Paul rolled the ball out to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field, so Pierzynski was easily safe.
"Customarily, if the ball is in the dirt, say if we block a ball for strike three, they usually say, 'No catch, no catch, no catch.' And I didn't hear any of that," Paul said. "That's why I was headed back to the dugout."
Then everybody stopped, including the umpires. When they let Pierzynski stay at first, Scioscia came out of the dugout to argue.
The umpires huddled and upheld the call after a delay of about four minutes. Last year's postseason was marked by umpires consulting and drawing praise for getting key calls correct -- even if it meant overturning the original ruling.
When it looked as if play was about to begin again, Scioscia came out again and Eddings conferred with third-base umpire Ed Rapuano.
Again the call stood, and the White Sox capitalized.
Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna quickly stole second, and Crede lined an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner for a game-winning double.
Mark Buehrle pitched a five-hitter for the first complete game of this postseason, and the White Sox bounced back from a tight loss in the opener.
"Do we feel lucky? No," Pierzynski said. "Did they feel lucky when they won last night?"
Probably not, but they certainly felt robbed this time. Scioscia and several Angels lingered in the dugout, staring in disbelief at what they had seen.
Until now, the most famous play involving a dropped third strike came in Game 4 of the 1941 World Series. Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen let strike three get past him, and New York's Tommy Henrich reached first safely instead of making the final out.
The Yankees rallied for a 7-4 victory and won the Series the next day.
This series shifts to Anaheim for Game 3 on Friday. The Angels were planning to finally get some sleep -- but that might be difficult after losing this way.
Los Angeles arrived at its hotel in Chicago around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after crisscrossing the country while flying overnight two days in a row.
In fact, the Angels plan to bypass the conventional off-day workout Thursday in their own ballpark, choosing instead to let their players rest.
Smooth as ever, Buehrle cruised through the ninth on eight pitches, jogging over to catch Garret Anderson's inning-ending popup himself and casually tossing the ball into the stands
Robb Quinlan homered and saved a run with a sparkling defensive play for the Angels.
Crede was doubled off second on Juan Uribe's liner to left to end the seventh, bringing manager Ozzie Guillen charging out of the dugout to argue unsuccessfully.
Washburn, coming off a throat infection and fever, allowed only an unearned run and four hits, keeping his team close.
Working quickly as always, Buehrle faced the minimum until Cabrera's one-out double in the fourth. The AL starter in this year's All-Star Game, he was 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA at home and beat Boston in Game 2 of the division series.
Washburn looked shaky at the start, inexplicably throwing away Podsednik's leadoff comebacker for a two-base error.
Tadahito Iguchi's sacrifice drew a roar from the crowd of 41,013 -- Chicago fans are gaga for Guillen's small-ball style. Plus, failed bunt attempts cost the White Sox in Game 1.
Dye's RBI groundout gave Chicago its first lead of the series.
Rowand slid safely into third as Guerrero's long throw skidded through the infield. With the crowd screaming, third-base coach Joey Cora leaned down to holler at Rowand, wave him to his feet and send him home.
But Quinlan made an outstanding play, dashing up the left-field line to chase down the ball with a slide. He popped to his feet and fired to the plate, just in time for catcher Jose Molina to reach and tag Rowand as he dived headfirst.
Quinlan, starting at third to provide another right-handed bat against Buehrle, connected in the fifth for his first career postseason homer, tying the score at 1.
- SS Uribe made a fine play to rob Guerrero of a first-inning hit for the second consecutive night.
- Los Angeles' Bengie Molina, serving as the DH to give him a break from catching, was hit in the knee by a pitch.