The Oakland Athletics have made two World Series appearances since last being swept in a series at home.
In a rivalry that has become baseball's focal point, the Chicago White Sox emerged from Sunday's 3-2 10-inning victory and three-game sweep of the defending World Champions as bona fide challengers for the Western Division title.On the strength of Dan Pasqua's game-winning solo homer, the White Sox closed to within one game of the first-place Athletics by inflicting the damage on enemy turf. In the process, they demonstrated that they should be taken seriously.
"I don't know about this business of being a contender," Chicago Manager Jeff Torborg said. "Don't forget this is only June, but this club is not a fluke."
Last weekend, Chicago was in a similar position to challenge for the division lead, squaring off in a four-game weekend series at home.
But after winning the opener, the White Sox lost the final three games and some of their confidence in the process as the A's flexed their championship muscle to maintain control of the division.
Pasqua's opposite-field homer boosted the White Sox to within one game of the first-place Athletics, a position they have held for 72 consecutive days.
"They outplayed us three days and they won three," Oakland Manager Tony LaRussa said. "It makes us understand now what we have to do."
Pasqua, a left-hander, drilled an 0-1 pitch from Oakland starter Dave Stewart over the left field wall for his eighth homer of the year.
Pasqua hit the game-winner off a pitch he hadn't seen before.
"Stewart threw me a sinking fastball on the outer half of the plate - it was a pitch he hadn't showed me before," Pasqua said. "I knew I hit it well but I wasn't sure it was out until I saw Rickey (Henderson) watching the ball go over the wall."
Stewart gave full credit to the Pasqua's stroke.
"I made the pitch I wanted to make," he said. "As long as I've been pitching I've been told to make (the batter) take you deep to the opposite field. If he pulls the ball, you haven't done your job. You have to take your cap off to Pasqua."
Stewart, 9-6, allowed just six hits in 10 innings, but suffered his fifth loss in his last eight decisions. The right hander struck out a season-high nine and walked none.
It was the A's first extra-inning loss this year and the first White Sox sweep of the A's since April 1988.