Alou drives Marlins home in road rally 3-run HR, 4 RBIs lift Florida to 8-7 win, 3-2 World Series lead

Indians to face ace in Game 6

Rookie Hernandez gets 2nd win over Hershiser

October 24, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- The Florida Marlins may be the team the television executives would like to forget, but they are one victory away from becoming the first wild-card entry to win the World Series.

Manager Jim Leyland complained bitterly before Game 5 last night about the way both the Marlins and Cleveland Indians have been slighted by the national media during the past week, then watched his team come from behind to score an 8-7 victory and move to the threshold of a most unlikely title.

Who could have imagined five years ago that an expansion team would be in this position, with pitching ace Kevin Brown scheduled to start a potentially historic Game 6 when the Fall Classic moves back to South Florida tomorrow night?

Certainly not Indians right-hander Orel Hershiser, who was putting together another plucky postseason performance when Moises Alou hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to bring the Marlins from behind and propel rookie Livan Hernandez to a his fourth postseason victory and second of the Series.

Certainly not Indians catcher Sandy Alomar, who drove in four runs in the early innings to break the major-league record for RBIs in a single postseason (19), and appeared to be pushing his club into position to win its first title since 1948.

That still could happen. The Indians came from behind to win each of their first two playoff series, but they have dug the hole a little deeper this time. They have to go to South Florida and beat the Marlins' best pitcher just to force a Game 7.

"We certainly have been in this position before this year," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "We have been through a lot of adversity all season and we have always come back and played hard. We'll go to Florida and hopefully win Game 6 and push it to Game 7 and see what happens. We're disappointed, but there's still some baseball left to play."

Alomar appeared to be making a strong case for World Series MVP honors -- and certainly would be the leading candidate if the Indians fight back to win -- but Alou now has to be the favorite to win that award after a four-RBI performance that gave the Marlins their second victory in three games at frigid Jacobs Field.

"Hopefully, I can have a bigger game on Saturday," Alou said.

The sellout crowd of 44,888 didn't want the extended home schedule to end this way, but Hershiser faded in the middle innings and Hernandez overcame a rocky start to work into the ninth. The Indians staged one last comeback attempt -- scoring three times off Hernandez and closer Robb Nen -- but the rally fell short when Alomar flied out to the warning track in right field.

"I think it was a great ballgame," Marlins manager Jim Leyland said. " Both teams gave a lot of reasons tonight why they are here."

Marlins fans have plenty of reasons to believe they will be attending a parade soon, but Leyland knows that the Indians have made a habit of coming from behind this October, so he's not ready to make any bold predictions.

"I still don't think there's any advantage," he said. "Of course, there is the one-game advantage, but the thing that's really amazing is how the postseason is unlike the regular season. If you get eight or nine games back in the regular season, it's tough to come back. But in the championship season, they're only one game behind, so if they win a game it's all back even. and they're more than capable of doing that when we get back to Florida."

Hershiser was looking for a measure of redemption, but it wasn't to be. He came into October with the most impressive postseason credentials of any active pitcher -- an 8-1 career record and 1.83 ERA -- but was winless in four previous postseason starts this year and had taken a seven-run pounding in Game 1.

Matched against Hernandez for the second time six days, Hershiser continued to flirt with disaster. He allowed two base hits in the first inning but got out of trouble when Bobby Bonilla bounced into a double play. He allowed a leadoff double to Darren Daulton in the second and gave up run-scoring hits to Charles Johnson and Devon White before the Marlins ran themselves out of that inning.

Johnson's two-out single to center brought home Daulton. White's double easily scored Johnson, but second baseman Craig Counsell, who had walked in between, tried to score from first base and was thrown out easily on a relay from Manny Ramirez to Bip Roberts to the plate.

Hershiser's first 1-2-3 inning came in the third, but he still was walking a tightrope. He gave up line drives to Gary Sheffield and Bonilla, each of which found a glove on the infield, before settling to run off a string of 10 consecutive outs that carried him into the frightful sixth inning.

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