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Sox in wash cycle

Rain puts a damper on homestand finale

How long did the Red Sox and White Sox sit yesterday afternoon, twice waiting to resume play on a day when Fenway Park looked and felt like the Museum of Science's Theater of Electricity, only with the roof off?

During the two delays -- 2:11 p.m. to 2:59, then 4:07 until 7:53, at which time the game was called -- the loyal, soaked legion of fans who remained at Fenway Park could have watched, in the comfort of their homes, ''Titanic" (197 minutes), ''60 Minutes," and an episode of ''Seinfeld" (if you were to skip the eight minutes of commercials and the last five minutes of the show).

Indeed, the delays totaled 4 hours 34 minutes, before White Sox bullpen coach Man Soo Lee began making a throat-slash gesture to the fans behind home plate just before 8 p.m., the initial indication that this game, which began at 2:05 p.m., would be postponed. An official announcement came moments later. And, as such, the events of the 3 1/3 innings that were played -- Chicago was pinballing Matt Clement's pitches and led, 5-2 -- will never to be found in any record book anywhere.

''It's probably a great feeling for him," noted manager Terry Francona.

No official makeup date has been announced, though Labor Day, which is Sept. 5, is the only common offday shared by the clubs. Playing that day would mean the Red Sox would play 30 consecutive days, and the rules collectively bargained call for player approval for any instance in which a team is asked to play more than 20 days in a row.

''Possibly not," said Sox union rep Johnny Damon, when asked if the game will be made up. ''Who knows? I speak a lot out of turn. We'll see, if it needs to be made up, if it's important to home field, to the playoffs, having the best record.

''[As of] right now we have to vote on it, and we definitely want an offday on Sept. 5."

Tickets for yesterday's game will be good for a possible makeup game. Sox COO Mike Dee, who estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the fans (somewhere between 8,000 and 11,000) remained until the game was postponed, said the teams discussed makeup possibilities yesterday and will talk in-depth today. Currently, the White Sox are not scheduled to return again to the East Coast.

Dee said the clubs would prefer not to schedule anything the day after the regular season ends Oct. 2. The postseason begins either Oct. 4 or 5, and, as of today, both clubs figure to be involved.

Umpiring chief Rick Reed kept that in mind yesterday as he waited to make the decision to call the game, which rests in his hands.

''When you've waited awhile, it takes awhile for the crew to get the drains started, to get the field prepped for the next go around," Reed said. ''What we had to do is consider all that, and by the time we were done, the next batch of rain was on its way.

''You try to be cognizant of the fact that it's the last meeting between the two teams, which makes it our game. And then try to get the game in for the home box so they don't have to reschedule. And you have two first-place teams. The condition of the field now is coming into jeopardy . . . It was pretty bad. You try and take in the integrity of the game for everyone, not only the teams and players, but the fans, too."

The rainout, meanwhile, helped the Sox keep alive their pursuit of the longest home winning streak in team and American League history. The record is 24, held by the 1988 Sox, and this edition left last night for Detroit with victories in 13 straight at Fenway.

Yesterday, the Sox, and Clement, looked bound for defeat. Clement allowed only one hit -- a Carl Everett double -- his first trip through the lineup, then watched as seven of the next nine Chicago batters reached.

Everett, in the third, knocked in a run with an RBI single, and Paul Konerko followed with a two-run double inside the third-base line. Jermaine Dye then led off the fourth with his second homer in as many days, this on a 0-and-1 sinker, but, with the rainout, is now back to 22 homers on the season, not 23.

The next batter lined a ball to right that Adam Stern ran down but couldn't catch, the ball hitting the heel of his glove as he dived and ricocheting off his face for a double. Catcher Chris Widger then lined a double off the wall in center, plating a run for a 5-2 lead.

The Sox had scored twice in the bottom of the third inning, on RBI singles double by Alex Cora and RBI single by Tony Graffanino. The record will show Graffanino as 6 for 12 with a homer and 6 RBIs in the series, but he can go to Detroit thinking he's 7 for 13 with 7 RBIs.

In going to Detroit the Sox begin their longest trip of the year. The trek, a 10-game, 11-day spin through Detroit (three games), Los Angeles (four games), and Kansas City (three games), is the team's only three-city trip of the year. The Sox leave behind Fenway, where they own the AL's best home record (38-18) for the road, where they are 30-29.

''I think our team is fit to play a game anywhere, now," said Damon, noting that the acquisitions of Graffanino and Cora, and Stern's call-up, give the Sox a better bench, which helps when the club doesn't have the last at-bat. ''We have team speed now. Having the bench guys, adding a Graffanino, adding a Stern, a Cora, guys who can run the bases because we were just awful, awful most of the season. And now we're getting better."

The Sox also seem to catch some teams that are struggling. Detroit, two games under .500 at the All-Star break, is now six, though that was eight under before yesterday, when the Tigers beat Kansas City in both ends of a doubleheader. The Royals, meanwhile, have lost a club-record 15 consecutive games to fall 40 games below .500 (38-78).

The Angels edged Seattle yesterday to pull a game ahead of Oakland, though Los Angeles once held an 8 1/2-game lead and has played poor baseball of late, the troubles lying mostly in the bullpen. The teams relief corps has blown 14 saves, six of those in their last 14 games.

The additional good news: When the Sox pull back onto Van Ness Street in the early morning hours Aug. 26, they will be staring down the final 36 games of the season, 24 of which will be played at Fenway.

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