Ten, 11, 12, 13 innings. No one could break through.
Not the White Sox, who waited 46 years to get back to the World Series. Not the Astros, who've never been here before.
Finally, in the 14th inning, Geoff Blum won the longest game in World Series history with a tiebreaking, two-out solo homer, and Chicago beat Houston 7-5 Wednesday morning to move within a win of a Series sweep and its first title since 1917.
"I didn't know if I got it high enough," Blum said. "Somebody was watching out for me."
Long after Chicago overcame a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth inning against Roy Oswalt and Jason Lane hit a tying double for Houston in the eighth, Blum batted for the first time in a World Series with two outs and faced Ezequiel Astacio, Houston's seventh pitcher.
With nearly all the seats still full in Minute Maid Park, Blum sent a 2-0 pitch from Astacio down the right-field line, and the ball sailed over the wall. As the former Astro circled the bases, Houston manager Phil Garner slammed a stool in the dugout.
A starter with Houston in 2002-2003, Blum has been mostly a backup in Chicago and entered the game in the 13th as part of a double-switch.
Mark Buehrle, who pitched seven innings in Game 2 on Sunday night, came in, Chicago's ninth pitcher and the 17th of the game, both Series records.
Adam Everett then popped to shortstop for the final out at 1:20am local time. At 5 hours, 41 minutes, it was the longest game by time in Series history. It matched the longest by innings, a Babe Ruth complete game for the Boston Red Sox against Brooklyn in 1914.
Houston, which got only one hit after the fourth inning and stranded 15 runners, left the potential winning run at third base in the ninth and at second base in the 10th and 11th.
"It's some pretty poor hitting," manager Phil Garner said. "We had our chances, it's amazing we were in the ballgame."
Freddy Garcia tries to complete the sweep for Chicago on Wednesday night, opposed by Brandon Backe. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the World Series, and only one major league team has overcome those odds in any round of the postseason -- Boston in last year's AL championship series against the New York Yankees.
In the first World Series game played in the state of Texas, Major League Baseball ordered the retractable roof open for the game because the skies were cloudless and the temperature a comfortable 61 degrees at game time. Houston wanted the roof closed, to increase the decibels.
Oswalt couldn't hold the 4-0 lead, allowing five runs in a 46-pitch fifth inning -- the most pitches he's thrown in an inning in his career, according to STATS Inc. He gave up five runs, eight hits and five walks in six-plus innings.
After giving up three runs in the first four innings, Chicago starter Jon Garland pitched shutout ball for the next four. But for the second straight game, Chicago's bullpen faltered.
Cliff Politte walked Morgan Ensberg with two outs in the eighth, and left-hander Neal Cotts came in and walked Mike Lamb.
Instead of bringing in Bobby Jenks to face Lane, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen summoned former closer Dustin Hermanson for his first appearance of the postseason.
Lane drove a 1-2 pitch over the first-base bag for a tying double that put the potential go-ahead run on third. Hermanson then got Brad Ausmus to take a called third strike.