Dye is sixth outfielder to win MVP

HOUSTON -- Jermaine Dye may never display his hammer-wielding skills on HGTV, but he's creating quite a reputation as a handyman.

When Dye starts a project, he tends to complete it. And the 2005 World Series will forever be his signature exhibit after earning MVP honors in the Chicago White Sox's four-game sweep of the Houston Astros.

The veteran outfielder drove in the first run of the Series with an opposite-field home run in Game 1. And in Wednesday's Game 4, his RBI single in the eighth inning off Astros closer Brad Lidge accounted for the only run in Chicago's 1-0 Series-clinching victory.

Dye, 31, had hits in every game of the Series and finished with a flurry. Not only did he produce three of the Sox's eight hits in Game 4, but he also hit safely in four of his final five at-bats to finish with a .438 average.

"A couple of guys could have got it," said Dye, who became only the sixth outfielder to ever be named World Series MVP. "We all worked hard to do whatever we could to help this team win, and guys came up with big hits in a lot of situations. And it's just special for me to be thought of as MVP and become an MVP in that group."

Dye's game-winning hit officially distinguished him from the rest of the worthy White Sox. Until the pivotal eighth inning, however, Chicago had managed only five hits through seven scoreless innings against Houston starter Brandon Backe.

The Astros lifted Backe in favor of Lidge to further defuse the White Sox bats. After Willie Harris opened the eighth inning with a single to left, Scott Podsednik sacrificed Harris to second and pinch-hitter Carl Everett grounded out to advance Harris to third.

Up stepped Dye, who was waiting for one of Lidge's trademark sliders. With a 1-1 count, he saw the one he wanted, getting good enough wood to bounce it through the middle, just outside the reach of shortstop Adam Everett to plate Harris with the game's only run.

"I stayed with my game plan, didn't really try to do too much, just tried to hit it hard somewhere and found a hole up the middle," said Dye, who finished the Series with three RBI.

When questioned about using Lidge, whose nightmarish postseason absorbed yet another blow, Astros manager Phil Garner credited Dye instead.

"I think in tonight's case a good piece of hitting by Jermaine Dye," said Garner. "He hit a slider where we like for Brad to throw it, and he got it up the middle. All along in the series we talked about they were doing a nice job of hitting, and that was a classic case of it."

Thus ended a much more pleasant experience than the first time Dye appeared in the Fall Classic. As a 21-year-old rookie with the Atlanta Braves, Dye was held to a microscopic .117 average (2-for-17) as the Braves fell to the New York Yankees in six games.

"Getting to the World Series my rookie year, I didn't really know what it was like," said Dye. "I was just excited to be there, just having fun. You just never know if you're going to get that chance again."

Dye was traded the following year to Kansas City, where he developed into an All-Star outfielder, with two 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. But he returned to the playoffs after another trade, this time to Oakland, where he created even more painful playoff memories.

Along with the sting of three straight AL Division Series defeats, Dye broke his left tibia in the 2001 series against the Yankees and was injury-plagued through most of his 3½ years in Oakland -- from torn knee cartilage to a separated shoulder to a broken thumb.

A free agent last offseason, Dye signed a two-year contract with Chicago. And the White Sox benefited from his first injury-free season in nearly five years. Other than some time off in July with some infected spider bites, Dye played 145 games -- his most since 1991 -- and his 31 home runs and 86 RBI gave Chicago the type of the middle-of-the-order bat it was hoping for.

Not only that, but Dye brought a wealth of knowledge. As the most playoff-decorated member of the White Sox, he was more than eager to impart anything that could help his teammates handle the World Series spotlight and perform under it.

And together, he and his White Sox teammates responded in an unprecedented way -- Dye with an MVP performance and the franchise with a long-awaited championship.

"I told guys all my experiences about what it takes to get there and what it's like," said Dye. "You just have to treat it like a regular-season game. There's a lot of hype with media and stuff like that, but if you just stick with your game plan and stay with what got you there and not change, then good things will happen."