Yanks' bullpen keeps Braves scoreless to allow comeback
Posted: Wednesday October 27, 1999 02:53 AM
Mariano Rivera got the win in relief in Game 3. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Once again in the postseason, the New York Yankees' bullpen kept them in the game long enough for a comeback.
Three relievers combined for 6 1-3 scoreless innings after Andy Pettitte was knocked out and the Yankees came back from four runs down to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in 10 innings Tuesday night and take a 3-0 lead in the World Series.
"When we saw Andy struggle a little bit, we knew it was going to be one of those games we were going to need a lot of middle relief," said Jeff Nelson, who pitched two perfect innings.
Just like in 1996, when these Yankees won the title, it was the bullpen that was the difference against the Braves.
After Pettitte was bounced around for five runs in 3 2-3 innings, Jason Grimsley, Nelson and Mariano Rivera kept the Braves off the scoreboard long enough for the Yankees to tie it on homers by Chad Curtis, Tino Martinez and Chuck Knoblauch.
New York, which trailed 5-1 when Pettitte left, eventually won it in the 10th on Curtis' second homer. Without the bullpen, Curtis never would have gotten the chance to be the hero.
Grimsley, who didn't make the roster for the first two rounds, started it with 2 1-3 scoreless innings.
"I think all of the credit goes to Grimsley," Nelson said. "He hasn't pitched in a month and he comes in and pitches like he does."
Nelson then came in to pitch two perfect innings.
"Nellie was terrific," manager Joe Torre said. "He was really the key guy for us in the seventh and eighth innings."
Rivera finished the job, pitching the ninth and 10th innings for the win. Rivera hasn't allowed a run in 41 2-3 innings since July 21 and in his last 24 1-3 in the postseason.
It was a performance by New York's relievers similar to Game 4 in 1996, when the Braves took a 5-0 lead after two innings against Kenny Rogers. They would add one run in the fifth off David Weathers, but that was all Atlanta could muster in eight innings off the bullpen.
The Yankees scored three in the sixth and then tied it in the eighth on Jim Leyritz's three-run homer off Mark Wohlers. They won it in the 10th when Steve Avery walked Wade Boggs with the bases loaded and went on to take the Series 4-2.
"Every time Joe Torre takes a guy out of game when we're losing, he tells the new pitcher to hold them here and get a win," Knoblauch said. "That's the way we have to think. It's not cockiness. It's having a great deal of confidence in the guys we have on our team to come back."
Stingy relief has been the calling card for the Yankees in the postseason under Torre. In four postseasons, the bullpen has blown only one save and has been the biggest reason the Yankees are one win away from becoming the sixth team to win three World Series titles in four seasons.
It's been no different this season.
Outside of Hideki Irabu's disastrous relief outing in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series against Boston, the Yankees' bullpen has been nearly untouchable.
The other relievers have allowed two runs in 24 innings, with both coming with New York leading 7-0 in the ninth inning of Game 2.
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