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One swing, one win

Williams homers on second pitch of 10th to beat Boston

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Posted: Thursday October 14, 1999 07:55 AM

  Rod Beck Red Sox closer Rod Beck gave up the game-winning homer on just his second pitch of the game. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- With a leadoff homer by Bernie Williams in the 10th inning, the AL championship series opened with one of the oldest stories in baseball: the New York Yankees overtaking the Boston Red Sox.

Williams hit the game-winning shot off Rod Beck, and Scott Brosius hit a two-run homer, triple and single to lead the Yankees to a 4-3 victory Wednesday night.

"I was due," said Williams, who in 1996 won the ALCS opener with an 11th-inning homer off Randy Myers. "I was just able to get a good pitch and turn on it. I was just looking for a pitch out over the plate. I definitely didn't want to pull out on the ball."

In the first postseason game ever between the traditional rivals, the Yankees won their 11th straight postseason game, and once against tortured their neighbors from New England.

Boston took a 2-0 lead just seven pitches into the game on a run-scoring throwing error by shortstop Derek Jeter and Brian Daubach's RBI single. Jose Offerman's RBI infield single made it a 3-0 lead in the second against Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who had allowed just one run in 20 career postseason innings coming in.

Brosius, the MVP of last year's World Series, hit a two-run homer in the bottom half against surprise starter Kent Mercker, and Jeter tied it in the seventh with an RBI single off Derek Lowe. Brosius crashed into catcher Jason Varitek, who had plenty of time but couldn't handle the one-hop throw from right-fielder Trot Nixon.

"For sure, the ball beat him," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Williams then opened the 11th by sending an 0-1 pitch to straightaway center field, At first, Darren Lewis thought he had a chance at it, but the ball kept sailing and went over the 408-foot sign.

"Bernie does big things," Torre said. "I wasn't sure the ball was out until I looked at Darren. The way he turned on it, I sensed it was gone."

David Cone, who hasn't pitched since Oct. 2, tries to give New York a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series when he starts Thursday night against Ramon Martinez.

Until the 10th, it had been a frustrating night for the World Series champions, who were just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Brosius tripled in the fourth and singled and scored the tying run in the seventh. He missed becoming the first player to hit for the cycle in the postseason when he took a called third strike in the ninth.

Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra saved two or three runs with flashy catches. He jumped at full extension to backhand liners by Chili Davis in the first and Tino Martinez in the third. He was able to time his jump on the first, a soft liner with runners on second and third. Martinez's ball came with runners at the corners.

Garciaparra also made two errors in a game for the first time since Aug. 23, 1998, but neither led to any runs.

New York also had a bad night in the field. Chuck Knoblauch, who had 26 errors during the season, allowed Brosius' throw from third on John Valentin's 10th-inning grounder to pop out of the webbing of his glove.

But second-base umpire Rick Reed blew the call, deciding Knoblauch was transferring the ball to his throwing hand and calling Offerman out on a force. Daubach then hit into an inning-ending double play.

"I know those guys are out there doing the best they can," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "It was just my opinion he didn't have possesion of the ball. That's the bottom line."

There were trappings of history in the air on the cool autumn night made damp by an on-and-off rain. Not that Boston needed a reminder, but several fans brought along banners emblazoned "1918," the year of Boston's last World Series victory.

Two years later, the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and since then New York has won 24 Series titles and Boston none.

Offerman singled on the fifth pitch of the night and Valentin followed with a grounder to Jeter, who made a diving stop. Jeter, trying for the force at second, bounced the ball past Chuck Knoblauch, and it rolled into right field as Offerman scored.

Dauubach singled on the next pitch, and the Red Sox opened with a two-run first for the third straight game.

Hernandez, overpowering last week when he allowed two hits in eight innings against Texas, struggled early, then retired 12 of his final 13 batters following Valentin's fourth-inning double.

Lewis walked leading off the second inning, stole second, went to third on Trot Nixon's single and came home on Offerman's slow-rolling single between the mound and shortstop.

Mercker, acquired from St. Louis on Aug. 24, got into trouble in all four of his innings, but escaped three times.

New York left runners at second and third in the first inning, and stranded men at the corners in the third and fourth.

Brosius connected in the second following a two-out single by Shane Spencer, activated by the Yankees before the game in case Paul O'Neill couldn't play because of his fractured rib. When Brosius sent the ball over the left-field wall, it gave him two homers in two career at-bats against Mercker.

O'Neill, who missed the first-round clincher at Texas on Saturday, was 1-for-5, reaching on an infield single in the first. He grimaced, appearing to be pain when he landed on his right side when making a sliding catch on Troy O'Leary's sinking liner in the fifth.

Notes: Brosius had five postseason homers in his career. ... The game was held up for seven minutes in the middle of the ninth so the grounds crew could work on the field. ... Mariano Rivera pitched two innings for the win. He pitched two innings just three times during the regular season.


 
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Multimedia
Red Sox manager Jimy Williams still believes in Rod Beck. (101 K)
Yankees manager Joe Torre was surprised with the way the game ended. (150 K)
Torre says Bernie Williams is a huge player. (211 K)
Torre explains the importance of winning at home. (218 K)
Bernie Williams talks about his game-winning home run. (124 K)
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