2001 MLB Postseason

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Arizona Diamondbacks 2
St. Louis Cardinals 1
Posted: Monday October 15, 2001 02:09 AM
St. Louis Cardinals
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Arizona Diamondbacks
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PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Off the hook and on to the National League Championship Series.

After failing on a squeeze attempt, Tony Womack blooped a two-out single into left-center field that scored Danny Bautista with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Arizona Diamondbacks advanced to the NLCS with a 2-1 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The win put the Diamondbacks in the NLCS in just their fourth year of existence. But before Womack came through in the ninth, Arizona had a couple of other Game Five heroes.

Curt Schilling (2-0) tossed a six-hitter for his second win of the series and Matt Williams, booed at home during Game Two of this Division Series, made his first hit of the NLDS a memorable one with a long double to open the final inning.

"Everything is magnified in the series," said Williams, who was 0-for-15 before that at-bat. "If you have a stretch like that, it's not like the regular season where you can take a day or two off to work on it. It's nice getting the hit, but I know I still have a lot of work to do."

After Williams greeted reliever Dave Veres with a double into the right-field corner, Damian Miller bunted pinch runner Midre Cummings to third. Steve Kline (0-1) came on and walked pinch hitter Greg Colbrunn.

Arizona manager Bob Brenly opted to squeeze with Womack on the third pitch of the at-bat, but Womack bunted through the ball and Cummings was out easily.

The diminutive shortstop hung in there before blooping a 2-2 pitch just in front of left fielder Kerry Robinson, and Bautista scored ahead of a strong throw.

"I still knew I had a strike left and just tried to do the best I can," Womack said. "I mean, I did everything I could to put the bat on the ball. It was one of the toughest pitches I've seen to squeeze.

"(Once it failed), I had to put it away. In order to overcome what I just was called upon to do, I had to put it away real quick and get focused on doing what I do best. ... I got enough bat wood on it -- bat head on it -- to get it over the infield. It doesn't matter how it got done, we got it done and we're going to enjoy tonight and just do what we have to do to get to the next level."

It was Womack's third hit of the game after going 2-for-12 in the first four games of the series.

"Two outs, 2-2, I started right with the swing," Bautista said. "They were playing shallow, but I trust my legs. As soon as he hit the ball, I knew I had a good chance."

"That's where I wanted to be," Kline said. "Ninety-three games, then I had to choke. I had pitched against him well all year and I got it in on his hands and broke his bat. But he blooped it over (shortstop Edgar Renteria's) head."

Brenly explained the thought process behind the squeeze attempt.

"I'm sure there were a lot of people ready to put (goat horns) on me," he said. "With Kline on the mound, I mean, he's death on lefthanded hitters. I thought we could catch him by surprise. And, unfortunately, he threw a slider in the dirt and Tony couldn't get the bat on it.

"Even after that, I felt confident Tony was going to make something happen. You could see it in his eyes today. When he showed up at the ballpark today, the way he went about his batting practice, his extra work in the cage, and the at-bats he had in the ballgame, he was a very focused man today. I was confident he would do something to help bail me out."

Arizona advanced to face the Atlanta Braves and will host Game One of the best-of-seven series Tuesday.

"I cannot be any prouder of being a Diamondback right now," said veteran first baseman Mark Grace, who is in his first year with Arizona. "It's so emotional because I have waited a long time for this. I never won a series before and I'm completely drained right now. There were four or five straight games where there was no room to breath."

Schilling, who walked one and struck out nine, may have been the difference in the series. The hard-throwing righthander allowed one run and nine hits in 18 innings.

"I felt good both nights," Schilling said. "I tried to take the game plan I used the other night and roll it over and make some adjustments where I thought maybe I needed to make them.

"I was probably a lot more nervous tonight than I was Game One. I'm not real sure why. I've never pitched a clinching game. That probably had something to do with it. I felt good. I probably didn't throw as many curveballs as I did the other night, but I felt velocity-wise, fastball-wise, location-wise, I had as good, if not better, stuff tonight."

St. Louis' Matt Morris, like Schilling a 22-game winner in the regular season, had the misfortune of opposing him in Games One and Five. But Morris was nearly as tough.

On Sunday, Morris allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings. He walked three and struck out six and in two starts gave up two runs and 13 hits in 15 innings.

"It was a great game to be a part of," Morris said. "I tried to outduel him once again. To go to a Game Five and then the bottom of the ninth and lose it ... it is as disappointing as it gets."

"I'm not a betting man, but 16 innings, two runs, and you would have thought he would have won both," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He was great. That's exactly what I meant. I thought he was great."

The Cardinals reached the NLCS in 2000 after capturing the NL Central Division title. This season, they were the wild card champions, losing the division title on the season's final day.

"You work this hard to get to this point and when it happens like that, it crushes you," Cardinals second baseman Fernando Vina said. "Once we got them on the squeeze, I thought we had it. You can't ask for a much better pitching performance (than Morris gave us), but Schilling was phenomenal again. I didn't think he could do that again."

The only scoring before the ninth came on solo homers by Arizona's Reggie Sanders in the fourth and St. Louis' J.D. Drew in the eighth.

St. Louis threatened against Schilling in the opening inning as Placido Polanco singled and Drew walked. But rookie Albert Pujols bounced into a forceout and Jim Edmonds struck out.

Arizona got two singles in the bottom of the first, but Morris got a key double play. The Diamondbacks put together a two-out rally in the third, loading the bases before Morris retired Steve Finley on a foulout to first.

Sanders got Arizona on the board in the fourth with his second career postseason homer. The Diamondbacks' right fielder lofted a 1-1 pitch 447 feet to left field for a 1-0 lead.

St. Louis got singles from Mike Matheny and Game Four hero Vina in the fifth, but Schilling retired Polanco on a bouncer to shortstop.

With Womack at second base in the fifth, Morris retired Luis Gonzalez on a flyout to right field. A double play ended Arizona's half of the sixth and Womack was involved in a strange play to finish the seventh.

Miller beat out an infield hit with one out and Schilling sacrificed. Womack followed with a sinking line drive to left field that Pujols trapped. Pujols came up throwing and nailed Miller at the plate, but left field umpire Mike Winters ruled that Pujols caught the ball on the fly.

Schilling got the first two batters in the eighth easily but grooved an 0-1 pitch to Drew, who lined it over the right-field wall to tie the game.

Finley reached on an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and Sanders walked. But Morris' 130th and final pitch was a curveball to Grace that caught him looking.

Edmonds opened the ninth with a single and Robinson batted for slugger Mark McGwire. The speedy rookie dropped down a sacrifice, but Schilling struck out Renteria and Matheny on pitches out of the strike zone.


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