Monday, November 05, 2001

D'backs dethrone Yankees

Arizona scores twice in 9th to win World Series

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHOENIX — Go ahead and call it the greatest World Series ever. The ending surely was one of the best. Arizona's Luis Gonzalez blooped a single into center field in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the unbeatable closer Mariano Rivera and the three-time defending world champion New York Yankees 3-2 Sunday night before 49,589 very happy fans at Bank One Ballpark.

Click on right width for your monitor, then right click to Set As Wallpaper(AP photos)
D'Backs mob Luis Gonzalez after his game-winning hit.
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Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling share the MVP trophy.
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Manager Bob Brenly celebrates with Gonzalez.
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Jay Bell and Schilling douse each other with champagne.
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Derek Jeter, Joe Torre and NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani commiserate in the Yankees' dressing room.
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        Just before the victorious rally, it had rained at the BOB. A rain shower in the desert isn't as rare as what the D-Backs did in their fourth year of existence.

        “We beat the greatest franchise in sports to win,” Curt Schilling said. “To beat them to win it was incredible.”

        The way it ended was even more incredible. The Yankees had a lead and Rivera on the mound. That's the surest bet in sports.

        “That's what you dream about it,” Gonzalez said. “Key situation. Ninth inning. Seventh game of the World Series. Best closer in the game on the mound.”

        “They earned it,” Yankee manager Joe Torre said. “They beat our best guy. Sure, we're disappointed. But realize how many times we've snatched one from other teams that were close.”

        Schilling, who pitched 7 1/3 innings to put the D'backs into position to win Game 7, and Randy Johnson, who won it by getting the final four outs, shared the Most Valuable Player award. Schilling was pitching on short rest for the second time. Johnson had thrown 110 pitches to win Game 6 Saturday.

        “Those two workhorses deserved it,” Gonzalez said.

        The Yankees had not lost a series in the postseason during their six-year run. Rivera saved every important game in the last four years.

        Rivera had struck out the side around a base hit in the eighth, looking overpowering. But Mark Grace led off the ninth with a single to center.

        Damian Miller bunted to get pinch-runner David Delluci to second. Rivera fielded and fired to second. His throw went into center field.

        First and second. No outs.

        Jay Bell tried to sacrifice them to second and third. But Rivera threw Delluci out at third.

        That brought up Tony Womack. He lined a double down the right-field line to tie it.

        Craig Counsell, hitting .083 in the series, came to the plate against the drawn-in infield. Rivera hit him with his second pitch.

        That brought up Gonzalez, he of the 57 home runs and 142 RBI in the regular season.

        He lined Rivera's second pitch into center field to win it.

        “It was the first time all year I choked up,” Gonzalez said. “I didn't have to hit it hard. I just had to loop it in there somewhere.”

        The Yankees, who had always found a way to win, were dethroned.

        “It seemed surreal,” Johnson said. “We knew we had a chance. But it was going to be a battle because we had to beat the best closer to do it.”

        Rookie Alfonso Soriano hit a home run to lead off the eighth inning and give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. That looked like enough in this pitchers' battle.

        Rivera entered the game with 23 straight saves in the postseason and a 0.70 ERA, the lowest in history for anyone who's thrown more than 50 innings.

        “We had a lead late and got to Mo,” Torre said. “That's what we wanted.”

        Arizona's Schilling and New York's Roger Clemens hooked up in a pitchers duel befitting their reputations early. It was the first time 20-game winners faced each other in Game 7 of the World Series since 1985.

        It was an 0-0 game until the bottom of the sixth. They were both great but in very different ways. Schilling allowed a double to the second hitter of the game, then retired 16 in a row.

        Clemens labored. He allowed runners to reach in first six innings but he worked out of trouble with his overpowering stuff.

        He left one out into the seventh. He allowed one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out 10.

        “He was terrific,” Torre said. “He did a great job of matching Curt.”

        The game was 0-0 until the D-Backs took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. The Yankees answered with a run the seventh.

        The D'backs become the third team to win a World Series by only winning at home. The Minnesota Twins did it in 1987 and '91.

        Schilling answered any questions about whether his right shoulder was sore early. His first pitch to Derek Jeter was a 96 mph fastball. Four pitches later, Jeter was called out on a 97 mph pitch. So pitching back-to-back to starts on short rest had not sapped any of his velocity.

        Paul O'Neill lined the pitch after the Jeter strikeout into the right-center field gap. It went to the wall and O'Neill didn't hesitate rounding second. But the throw from right fielder Danny Bautista to second baseman Craig Counsell to third baseman Matt Williams nailed O'Neill easily.

        Clemens had to work hard in the first, second and third, throwing at least 20 pitches in each.

        Schilling faced the minimum through six innings. His fastball was clocked as high as 98.

        The Yankees have been a team searching for offense throughout the series. They hit for an .183 average in the first six games.

        “We were not hitting,” Torre said. “But we seemed to into a situation that put us in the lead.”

        Steve Finley led off the sixth with the D'backs fifth hit of the game. Bautista, in the lineup because Arizona manager Bob Brenly through he was a better matchup against Clemens than Reggie Sanders, lashed a shot into left-center. It went to the wall.

        Finley scored easily. Bautista tried for third. But shortstop Derek Jeter made an incredible play to get him. Jeter leaped high to take center fielder Bernie Williams' throw. Jeter then turned as soon as he landed and fired a strike to third baseman to Scott Brosius.

        The ball beat Bautista, but replays showed Brosius tag missed him. Still, third base umpire Ed Rapuano called him out.

        That could have been the game.

        The Yankees tied it immediately. Jeter and Paul O'Neill started the seventh with back-to-back singles. Tino Martinez got Jeter home with a line single to right, and it was 1-1.

World Series box score
SULLIVAN: D'Backs have the last comeback
Schilling, Johnson share MVP
D'Backs revel in classic victory
O'Neill goes out with two hits
Rivera finally blows one
Rookie manager aces his crash course
Sanders benched for Game 7

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Colerain 30, Hamilton 7
Elder 38, Lebanon 13
Princeton 56, Anderson 20
St. Xavier 41, Northmont 6
Dayton Carroll 18, Roger Bacon 13
McNicholas 56, Mount Healthy 13
New Richmond 42, Ross 38
Piqua 21, Edgewood 0
Washington C.H. 39, Indian Hill 31
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Coldwater 54, Madeira 14
North College Hill 41, Chillicothe Zane Trace 10
Reading 39, Wheelersburg 31
Covington 47, Williamsburg 14
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Kentucky first-round scores
Ballard 43, Dixie Heights 32
Beechwood 56, Berea 6
Bellevue 27, Nicholas Co. 13
Covington Catholic 44, Harrison Co. 22
Highlands 49, Bourbon County 30
Holmes 24, Montgomery County 0
Lexington Catholic 54, Grant County 14
Lloyd 46, East Carter 0
Newport Central Catholic 56, Raceland 7
Paris 37, Holy Cross 6
Shelby County 19, Boone County 17
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Indiana playoff scores