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10/26/05 4:24 AM ET

Skippers say teams are set for Game 4

Marathon won't affect use of players in decisive contest

HOUSTON -- The two teams used 43 players and played the longest World Series game by innings in 89 years. But the Astros boss promised a fresh start on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the World Series, despite a 3-0 deficit and the White Sox a game away from clinching their first title since 1917.

"This shows us just how close each of these teams are," Drayton McLane, the team's chairman and chief executive since 1993, said as Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning. "We should have won each of the first three games. We were so close. We were one hit away. We're going to wipe this out and be back out there battling tomorrow, or I guess it's later today."

Each team had to dig deep into its rosters to try and secure a game that began in the early evening under an open roof at Minute Maid Park and ended well after the witching hour. The final score was Chicago 7, Houston 5, in a 14-inning affair that matched Boston's 2-1 victory over Brooklyn on Oct. 9, 1916, a game that took 2 hours, 32 minutes in comparison to Tuesday night's 5:41.

Both starting pitchers went the distance that long ago day in Game 2, and Babe Ruth pitched a six-hitter to earn the victory for the Red Sox, who won the Series in five games over the Brooklyn team then called the Robins.

The Astros and the White Sox set a World Series record on Tuesday night by combining to use 17 pitchers. The last, Chicago left-handed starter Mark Buehrle, was brought in by manager Ozzie Guillen to record the final out of the game. Buehrle, Chicago's ninth pitcher, started Game 2 on Sunday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez had to leave one batter into the 10th inning with a stiff neck.

The White Sox used 22 players and the Astros used 21. The only pitchers Guillen did not use were Wednesday night's starter Freddie Garcia and Thursday's potential Game 5 starter Jose Contreras. Astros manager Phil Garner used seven of his 10 pitchers. Wednesday's Game 4 starter Brandon Backe was obviously excused.

And Andy Pettitte (overall body stiffness) and Roger Clemens (strained left hamstring) were not available.

Both managers said that using so many players in Game 3 wouldn't affect what could come down to a one-game season in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

"It doesn't affect anything," Garner said. "We'll do everything we can to win [Wednesday's] ballgame."

Ditto Guillen.

"Everybody is ready to go," he said. "I hope I don't have to use Bobby Jenks, but if we need him we'll use him. The more he throws, the better he gets. We'll see how Hernandez is doing [Wednesday]. Buehrle was supposed to throw [on Wednesday]. Now he's ready to go if we have to start him [in a sixth game back in Chicago on Saturday night]."

Clemens' status is still very much up in the air, though he still is a possibility if the Series extends to Game 5, McLane said. The 43-year-old right-hander came out of Game 1 after two innings with the recurrence of the hamstring strain that has plagued him since late in the regular season.

Clemens worked out before the game on Tuesday.

"I talked to him late this afternoon after he threw in the bullpen," McLane said. "He told me, 'We have to get to the game Saturday and I'll be ready.' We've got a lot of work to do if that's the case. I don't think he'll be ready for Game 5 now. But don't ever count Roger Clemens out. He's amazing."

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.