Lieber gem, Olerud homer help Yankees beat Pedro, grab 2-0 ALCS lead
Posted: Wednesday October 13, 2004 11:49PM; Updated: Thursday October 14, 2004 10:08AM
While the raucous crowd at Yankee Stadium taunted Martinez with booming chants of "Who's Your Daddy?" Lieber shut down the highest-scoring offense in the major leagues.
A No. 5 starter pitching against a three-time Cy Young Award winner, Lieber took a shutout into the eighth inning. John Olerud backed him with a two-run homer in the sixth off the tiring Martinez, and the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-1 Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in their AL championship series rematch.
"I knew coming into this game what Pedro has done in the past in situations like this, so there was no room for error," Lieber said.
He loves being under the radar, keeping a low profile, not wanting to draw attention to himself. Like it or not, Martinez can't avoid the spotlight. He had it before and it only grew larger after a loss to the Yankees on Sept. 24 prompted him to say:
"Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can't find a way to beat them at this point."
He insisted he doesn't mind the taunts that have followed that quote.
"It actually made me feel really, really good. I actually realized that I was somebody important because I got the attention of 60,000 people," Martinez said. "Fifteen years ago I was sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to actually pay for a bus. And today, I was the center of attention of the whole city of New York. I thank God for that."
On this night, however, Lieber threw superior pitches, allowing three hits in seven-plus innings. Even more remarkable, he's still recovering from shoulder surgery that sidelined him last season.
"He was as good as I've seen him all year," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.
Boston, which didn't get a runner on against Mike Mussina in the opener until the seventh inning, is hitting just .224 (15-for-67) in the first two games.
"I'll take responsibility for this ... 0-for-8 with five strikeouts," leadoff man Johnny Damon said. "I'm the catalyst of this team. I'm the guy on this team that gets us going, gets on base and creates some havoc, but I haven't been able to do that."
Working quickly, Lieber needed just 45 pitches to get through five innings -- Martinez threw 46 in the first two innings alone. Lieber's biggest thorn was Damon, who kept fouling balls off before lining to center in a 16-pitch at-bat with one out in the sixth.
"That was definitely one of the keys to this game," Lieber said.
Damon agreed it was a turning point.
"I actually felt if I got on base right there, we were going to have a big inning," he said.
After Trot Nixon singled leading off the eighth, Tom Gordon came in and allowed Jason Varitek's double and Cabrera's RBI grounder. Mariano Rivera entered with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth, just as he did Tuesday night when he jetted back from a family funeral in Panama to preserve New York's 10-7 win.
Rivera threw a called third strike past Damon to escape trouble, then finished the five-hitter for his second straight save and 32nd in postseason play.
Boston headed home unsure of the status of ace Curt Schilling, whose ailing right ankle might prevent him from starting Game 5 if it's needed. Martinez said he would pitch on short rest if needed.
"You feel good, but you don't feel too good," New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "We feel like everybody wrote us off before this series started."
Back on the mound where he blew a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning of last year's Game 7, Martinez once again tired against the team that frustrates him most.
Pitching just a few miles from where Big Daddy and Daddy Warbucks became famous names on Broadway, he dropped to 1-2 against the Yankees in postseason play. During the regular season, Martinez is 10-10 against New York and 172-66 against the rest of baseball.
"To beat him when he had his stuff like this, it really gives us a lot of confidence," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
New York, which took a 2-0 lead against Martinez after four pitches in his previous outing at Yankee Stadium last month, went ahead after 10 this time.
Martinez walked Jeter on four pitches and threw a breaking ball out of the strike zone as Jeter stole second. Martinez nicked Rodriguez on the hand with the count 2-2, and Gary Sheffield singled to center on the next pitch, with Jeter scoring easily ahead of Damon's weak throw.
Martinez struck out Sheffield on a 95 mph pitch in the fifth inning, but he tired in the sixth, when he walked Posada with one out. He got ahead 1-2 in the count against Olerud, who was signed Aug. 3 for the discount price of $100,000 after Seattle released him from a $7.7 million deal.
Olerud sent a high pitch -- Martinez's 106th -- over the middle of the plate just over the right-field wall for the ninth postseason homer of his career. The crowd of 56,136 chanted "Who's Your Daddy?" long and loud.
"It ranks right up there," Olerud said when asked if it was his biggest hit. "It's definitely the freshest in my mind."
Notes: Boston has lost nine of its last 10 Game 2s in the postseason. New York has won five straight Game 2s. ... The Yankees haven't lost a best-of-seven series after taking a 2-0 lead since the Los Angeles Dodgers beat them 4-2 in the 1981 World Series.