Work in Sports
Five-run fifth inning keeps hope alive for Mariners
Updated: Monday October 16, 2000 7:58 AM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez brought Seattle's bats back to life, and then the Mariners made sure the AL Championship Series returned to the Bronx.
With Seattle facing elimination, Rodriguez revived his team with a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning. Edgar Martinez and John Olerud followed with consecutive homers that carried Seattle past the New York Yankees 6-2 on Sunday, pulling the Mariners to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
"We're in a no-lose situation," Olerud said. "I don't think there's many people who think we're able to come back."
The Yankees, trying to fulfill the AL half of what would be the first Subway Series since 1956, returned to New York with their top two playoff pitchers ready: Orlando Hernandez faces John Halama in Game 6 Tuesday night, with Andy Pettitte on reserve if there is a seventh game the following day.
"I like our chances, basically because we have two of our best going," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully, one is enough."
The Mariners' mission is similar to five years ago, when they lost to the Yankees in the opening games of a best-of-five series in the first round, then won three straight at the Kingdome. This time, however, they will have to win two at Yankee Stadium.
"The pressure's on them," Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. "They're supposed to win."
Freddy Garcia beat the two-time defending World Series champions for the second time in six days, allowing seven hits in five innings. The Yankees, 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the opener, were just 2-for-15 Sunday with runners on second or third.
"We had plenty of opportunities," Torre said. "We just didn't do anything with them."
Safeco Field was nearly silent after Luis Sojo's two-run double gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fourth against Garcia.
Seattle, which scored five runs in the first four games of the series, got five runs in the fifth alone, the inning ignited by Mark McLemore's 40-foot bunt single up the third-base line.
And the Mariners didn't even take batting practice.
"We just got loose and played the game," Piniella said. "Sometimes, it's a more relaxing thing."
The Yankees converged on the mound to talk strategy, while Mariners coaches conferred with their runners.
Fans stood, cheering, and a train whistle sounded loudly from beyond right field.
Mike Cameron sacrificed and Torre brought in Jeff Nelson to face Rodriguez, a free agent after the World Series and likely to become the sport's highest-paid player. The Yankees declined to intentionally walk A-Rod, and he drove the first pitch into left field.
"That was the big hit we were looking for this whole series," Olerud said. "That was a relief."
Martinez, who hit a come-from-behind grand slam off Nelson on Aug. 29, but struck out against him Friday, followed by driving a 2-0 pitch about 10 rows deep into the center-field bleachers.
Olerud, robbed of a home run an inning earlier when Bernie Williams pulled a ball back over the center-field fence, then sent an 0-1 pitch into the right-field seats.
Nelson had allowed two homers in 69 2/3 innings during the regular season. Now he had allowed two in six pitches.
"It happened quick," Nelson said. "I didn't make good pitches."
Coming into the inning, Seattle was batting just .180 in the series. The Mariners then started the fifth by going 5-for-5, mirroring the Yankees' performance in Game 2, when they trailed 1-0 in the eighth inning, then went 8-for-8 and scored seven runs.
Rodriguez made sure New York didn't come right back, ranging to his left to snuff Sojo's grounder leading off the sixth and throwing him out at first with time to spare.
New York, which hasn't won four straight since Sept. 7-10, threatened in the seventh, loading the bases when Jose Paniagua walked Derek Jeter leading off. and Arthur Rhodes walked Williams and Tino Martinez with one out.
In Game 1, Hill batted for O'Neill with the potential tying run on first in the eighth and took a called third strike. History repeated, and Hill took a curveball for another third strike.
Seattle, held to one hit Saturday by Roger Clemens, needed just four batters to get three runners and match its total the previous night.
Neagle walked Cameron, Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez with out, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Olerud that ended Seattle's scoreless streak at 14 innings.
New York rallied in the fourth when Tino Martinez doubled leading off and went to third on a single by Posada, just his second hit in 15 at-bats in the series.
Sojo followed with a double, making him 4-for-4 against Garcia in the playoffs. But the 24-year-old right-hander held tough, retiring Scott Brosius on a popup, striking out Knoblauch and getting Jeter on a grounder.
Notes: Olerud swiped second in the seventh inning, his first stolen base of the year and the ninth of his career. ... The roof was closed when the Yankees started batting practice, then was opened about 90 minutes before game time. ... The Hall of Fame asked Clemens for the cap or jersey he wore during his one-hitter.