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A's edge Yankees to take 2-0 lead in Division Series
Posted: Friday October 12, 2001 12:20 AM
Updated: Friday October 12, 2001 10:04 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- These brash Oakland Athletics are one win away from ending the New York Yankees' latest dynasty.
Tim Hudson became the second young ace to extinguish the Yankees' offense, Ron Gant homered early and Oakland survived three late-inning scares to beat New York 2-0 Thursday night and head home with a 2-0 lead in their first-round AL playoff series.
After becoming the fourth team to win three straight World Series titles, the Yankees must win three consecutive games to extend their run.
"We didn't expect to come in here to Yankee Stadium and win two games against that club," Hudson said. "We battled, we stayed poised and we found a way to squeeze a couple of runs across."
Oakland, beaten 3-2 by the Yankees in last year's Division Series, has won eight straight over New York going back to the regular season -- and the Yankees haven't led in their past 76 innings against the A's.
New York's veterans look a little bit past their prime, unable to muscle their way out of trouble anymore.
"I don't know about old. But they're certainly making us eat some dust right now," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "What we have to do is what we've done before, not necessarily in postseason: We have to go on a three-game winning streak."
After escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth, the A's headed back to the ballpark where they won their last 17 home games of the regular season. Barry Zito (17-8), another of the left-handers who have given the Yankees difficulty this year, starts for the A's on Saturday against Mike Mussina (17-11).
Ron Gant's blast in the fourth was his eighth career home run in the postseason. AP
Memories of last year's Game 5 loss in Oakland -- when they fell behind 6-0 in the first inning -- are in the minds of the A's players.
"I think it's more of a maturity thing," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "Being there last year, getting a taste of it, coming so close."
Hudson, backed by Gant's fourth-inning homer and a ninth-inning run on an error by Scott Brosius, held the Yankees to one hit in the first five innings, then escaped jams in the sixth and seventh.
Pitching inside to back up batters and keep them from extending their arms over the plate, he retired 12 in a row after Derek Jeter's first-inning single and allowed six hits in all before Jason Isringhausen took over to start the ninth.
Isringhausen walked a fine line. Bernie Williams doubled off the glove of third baseman Eric Chavez leading off and Tino Martinez walked, creating more drama.
But Isringhausen recovered, throwing a called third strike past Jorge Posada and retiring David Justice and Brosius on popups for his second save of the series.
"In this kind of atmosphere, it's a little nerve-racking," Isringhausen said. "It's total adrenaline."
New York earned its titles by winning October games like this, but the A's seemed unafraid of the Yankees' success, mystique and rabid fans.
"This is our type of game tonight. We just came up short," Torre said.
After two-out singles by Chuck Knoblauch and Jeter put two on in the sixth, Hudson worked the count full on Paul O'Neill, the emotional backbone of the Yankees' through their championship years.
"The crowd was really into it, going crazy," Hudson said. "It's usually when the Yankee magic comes out."
But 56,684 fans on their feet, O'Neill didn't come through in the clutch this time, instead lofting a harmless flyout to shallow center.
"They've beaten us at our own game," O'Neill said. "These are the close games we normally win in the postseason."
Singles by Martinez and Justice gave New York runners at the corners with two outs in the seventh. After a mound visit by Oakland manager Art Howe, Hudson got Brosius to hit an easy grounder to second for a forceout.
"I lied a little bit," Howe recalled. "I said, `This is your last hitter, so give it everything you've got.'"
The A's, whose 102-60 record was second-best in baseball behind Seattle, got just enough offense to beat Andy Pettitte.
Like Roger Clemens during Oakland's 5-3 win in Wednesday's opener, Pettitte struggled and had only one 1-2-3 inning before departing in the seventh. But the A's were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving them at 0-for-19 in the series.
"They're growing as a team," Pettitte said. "You've got to take it like a man."
Pettitte was thrown off by President Bush's news conference, which delayed the start of the game by a half-hour.
"It was tough for me to control my emotions a little bit," he said.
Power had proved the difference thus far, with the A's scoring four of their six runs on home runs that led off innings. Eleven of Oakland's 19 hits in the two games have gone for extra bases.
Hudson and Game 1 winner Mark Mulder have neutralized the Yankees' central run producers. O'Neill and Brosius are each 0-for-8, while Williams and Justice are both 1-for-8.
"They would have shut down any team no matter what their age with the way they pitched," Martinez said.
Johnny Damon, 6-for-9 in the series, gave the A's breathing room in the ninth when he tripled down the right-field line off Mariano Rivera and came around when Brosius, who earlier made a spectacular backhand play to throw out Jermaine Dye, missed Jason Giambi's grounder to third with the infield in.
Brosius snapped his head in frustration, which this year seems to be replacing success as the Yankees' buzzword.
"We know who we're playing when we get back home," Isringhausen said. "We were on cloud nine when we went back there last year, too."
Notes: Former-Beatle Paul McCartney watched from the first row behind home plate. Union head Donald Fehr and Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer and Fehr's negotiating counterpart, watched from the second row. ... Gant has eight postseason homers. ... Jeter extended his postseason hitting streak to 12 games. ... Williams didn't run out a slow roller that was going foul in the first inning, and was easily out when the ball kicked back fair to second baseman Frank Menechino. ... Justice doesn't have an RBI in 59 at-bats since Sept. 5. ... Pettitte walked Giambi twice, once intentionally. During the regular season, Pettitte had just six walks in 176 plate appearances against lefties. ... New York lost for the first time in 10 postseason starts by Pettitte.
SI's Jamal Greene |
• First-rate performance: Oakland right-hander Tim Hudson cashed in some overdue karma when he took the mound and dominated New York for eight innings in Game 2.
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Through the first two games of the series, Joe Torre's squad has been stifled by Oakland's pitching. Start
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