CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds are the National League champions.
Unaffected by a last-minute Pittsburgh Pirates pitching change, the Reds moved last night into their first World Series since 1976 with a 2-1 victory over the Pirates at Riverfront Stadium.
The second-largest baseball crowd in the stadium's history, 56,079, watched a seventh-inning single by pinch hitter Luis Quinones decide a tense game and give the Reds the series, 4 games to 2.
"Nasty Boys" Norm Charlton and Randy Myers made the run stand up in relief of Danny Jackson, shutting out the Pirates for the final three innings and finishing Jackson's one-hitter.
Glenn Braggs leaped above the right-field wall to snag Carmelo Martinez's drive in the ninth with Barry Bonds on base, assuring the outcome. Myers then struck out Don Slaught to end the game.
"I saw Glenn going back, and he was going back in a fashion that he had the ball," said Myers. "That's why we've got those 6-4, 6-5 guys in right field . . . to help us out."
Charlton was in a bit of trouble in the seventh after Jackson walked the first two hitters, but Martinez popped out attempting to sacrifice and two fly balls ended the threat.
Pirates manager Jim Leyland would not second-guess the decision to bunt Martinez, who had the team's lone hit, a run-scoring double off Jackson in the fifth.
"No question the way we were swinging the bat, I had to try to get a guy to third base. I wanted to move two guys into scoring position," said Leyland. "He just didn't get the bunt down."
The Cincinnati bullpen finished with one earned run allowed in 18 1/3 innings in this series and Myers and Rob Dibble, who was warming up in the ninth, were named co-Most Valuable Players.
"Basically, I look at this as a bullpen MVP," said Myers. "We're a group down there."
Dibble went one step further. "I could have shared it with the whole rest of the team," he said.
Pittsburgh managed only Martinez's double against the three left-handers used by Cincinnati manager Lou Piniella , who defied the lefty-righty guessing game played earlier by the Pirates.
Leyland started right-hander Ted Power instead of left-hander Zane Smith because, he said, "This is something for which you pull out all the stops, and I'm pulling out all the stops."
Power, 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA against the Reds. Last night, he got the Pirates through only 2 1/3 innings before Smith rescued him.
"To me, the pitching worked out to perfection," said Leyland. "We gave them two runs. If somebody told me we're going to give up two with the way we were juggling the pitching, I'd have thought we'd have won for sure."
What he didn't foresee was Jackson retiring the first 13 Pirates in order before a walk to Bonds and Martinez's double broke up his perfect-game bid and shutout bid.
Still, that was enough because Power and Smith kept the Pirates in the fourth one-run game of the series.
But Smith, who was hammered in a 6-3 loss in Game 3, began to weaken in the sixth, leaving the bases loaded, and took the loss after allowing the game-winning run.
Ron Oester, who had entered the game at second base when Charlton replaced Jackson in the top of the seventh, switching spots in the batting order, led off the bottom of seventh with a single. After Barry Larkin failed to sacrifice, Billy Hatcher and Quinones (batting for Paul O'Neill) singled in succession.
It was odd that Leyland, with an 11-man pitching staff, let Smith in to face Quinones with Stan Belinda and Bill Landrum available to pitch. However, his objective was to keep Hal Morris, a solid left-handed hitter, on the bench, and he accomplished that.
The Reds' bullpen took care of the rest, coming up with its fourth save of the series. The group finished with an 0.49 ERA and struck out 21 in 18 1/3 innings.
"We'll savor this for a while. The World Series doesn't start until Tuesday," said Piniella. "We've been under the gun all year, and we've had an exciting, very competitive playoff. Sunday afternoon or maybe Monday we'll work out."
Cincinnati is 5-2 in League Championship Series, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most National League victories.
The Pirates have lost a record five league playoffs.