Work in Sports
FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- With a swing of the bat, Benny Agbayani ended the winning streaks of Orlando Hernandez and the New York Yankees and got the New York Mets right back in the World Series.
Agbayani's RBI double with one out in the eighth inning scored Todd Zeile with the go-ahead run as the Mets handed Hernandez his first postseason loss and snapped the Yankees' World Series winning streak at 14 games with a thrilling 4-2 triumph in Game Three of the "Subway Series."
With one out in the eighth, Zeile singled past shortstop Derek Jeter and Agbayani lined Hernandez's 134 pitch of the game into the left-center field gap as Zeile scored standing up. Jay Payton followed with an infield hit and pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell lofted a sacrifice fly to center field.
Armando Benitez, who blew a save in Game One, surrendered a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Chuck Knoblauch in the ninth but got pinch-hitter Luis Polonia to fly out. Derek Jeter struck out and David Justice popped out to second base as the Mets drew within 2-1 in the series.
The loss was the Yankees' first since Game Two of the 1996 World Series and ended the postseason winning streak of Hernandez (0-1) at eight games.
"Maybe breaking the streak is something special and we can ride a streak for a while," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.
New York native John Franco got the win with a scoreless eighth inning. At 40, Franco became the second oldest pitcher to win a World Series game. In 1933, 43-year-old Dolf Luque won Game Five for the New York Giants.
Benitez picked up just his second save in four chances in the 2000 postseason. The hard-throwing closer is just 4-for-10 all-time in postseason save opportunities.
Game Four is Wednesday night with the Mets sending Bobby Jones to the mound against Denny Neagle.
Hernandez allowed four runs and nine hits, walking three and striking out 12. Despite falling to 8-1 all-time in the postseason, "El Duque" became the first pitcher to strike out 12 in a World Series game since Tom Seaver did it for the Mets in Game Three of the 1973 World Series.
Mets starter Rick Reed did his best to match Hernandez, giving up two runs and six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
The teams combined to strike out 25 times, tying the World Series record. The total had been reached two other times, most recently in Game Two of the 1973 series between the Mets and Oakland, a contest that lasted 12 innings.
The all-time World Series record for strikeouts is 17, set by Bob Gibson of St. Louis in Game One of the 1968 Fall Classic.
After Hernandez struck out the side in the opening inning, Reed ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the second. Paul O'Neill doubled with two outs and the Mets opted to pitch to Scott Brosius with Hernandez on deck. Reed got Brosius swinging and Robin Ventura led off the bottom of the inning with a long home run to right field.
The Yankees broke through with a run after two were out in the third. Derek Jeter singled into left field and David Justice drilled a 2-2 pitch down the right field line. The Mets appeared to have a chance at cutting down Jeter at the plate but second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo double-clutched on the relay throw, which was high to the first base side of the plate.
The Yankees took the lead in the fourth. Tino Martinez led off with a single and scored when O'Neill scorched a triple into the right-center field gap. Hernandez stranded a runner at second in the bottom of the fourth and cruised into the sixth.
Mike Piazza led off with a double and Ventura walked. Zeile delivered a run-scoing double down the left field line and Agbayani walked to load the bases with none out.
Turk Wendell struck out the first two batters in the seventh before walking to Jeter. Dennis Cook came on and hit Justice with a pitch before striking out Bernie Williams to end the threat. Williams is 0-for-11 in the series.
The Mets went in order in their half of the seventh and Cook walked Martinez to open the eighth. On came Franco, who got Jorge Posada to bounce into a double play. O'Neill followed with a single for his third hit but Franco got Brosius to fly to right field.