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10/24/05 1:32 AM ET

Astros Game 2 analysis

Situation is dire, but Houston has faced this before

CHICAGO -- Let's take a breath here.

The Astros have dropped the first two games of a best-of-seven postgame series before and then gone home to sweep the next three. It happened last year in the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, before the Astros lost in seven games, and could happen again in the World Series.

The Astros play the White Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at Minute Maid Park, where the flip-top roof can shield both teams from the elements, although the weather is expected to be lovely.

"No one ever said it was going to be easy," said Andy Pettitte, who wasn't around to get the decision in Sunday's Game 2, 7-6 loss in the rain and gunk of U.S. Cellular Field that gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. "But we're just looking forward to getting home and getting out of this weather. We've got three at home. Hopefully we can bring this back here and take the Series."

Nothing much to quibble about. Pettitte gave you six gutsy innings and left with your team leading, 4-2. You then went with two relievers in the seventh -- Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls -- who have been pretty reliable all postseason. Neither gave up a run in seven combined appearances against the Cardinals in the six-game NLCS. Qualls also pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless ball in Game 1. Sometimes you make all the right moves, but the job doesn't get done.

Two words: Roy Oswalt. The last time we looked, Oswalt was shutting down the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS to lock down the Astros' first pennant and win the series MVP. All he did in two NLCS games is allow two runs on eight hits in 14 innings to win both starts. He's 3-0 this postseason with a 2.11 ERA and 4-0 now during the last two postseasons. He's been the great equalizer thus far for the Astros.

The White Sox haven't lost two games in a row since Sept. 26-27, at Detroit. They are 9-1 in the postseason and have won 14 of their last 15. When they were tied, 1-1, with the Angels two home games into the American League Championship Series, they ran the table at Anaheim, winning the last three games by a total score of 19-7. The White Sox won 10 more regular-season games than the Astros (99-89) and have Jon Garland, Freddie Garcia and Jose Contreras, the Game 1 winner, set for the three games at Minute Maid Park.

Who should start Game 5 if Roger Clemens can't?
Ezequiel Astacio
Mike Gallo
Wandy Rodriguez
Russ Springer

Will we ever see Roger Clemens pitch again? The superstar right-hander has been hobbled by left hamstring problems since the last weeks of the regular season, and had to come out of Game 1 after two innings with a recurrence of the same strain. Clemens is 43 and a bulldog, but even he has limitations. Final count: 21 seasons, 341 wins, 12 more in the postseason and 4,502 strikeouts?

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.