MIAMI -- The Cleveland Indians have proved it over and over. They are the team that will not die.
They came back in the Division Series. They upset the heavily favored Orioles in the American League Championship Series. And last night they pushed the 93rd World Series to the limit with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Marlins at Pro Player Stadium.
Right-hander Chad Ogea made the sellout crowd of 67,498 do a double-take, beating the Marlins with both his arm and -- believe it or not -- his bat. He pitched five strong innings to out-duel Marlins ace Kevin Brown for the second time in six days, and contributed a clutch two-run single that would be the only run-scoring hit of the game. He later doubled and scored as well.
The largest baseball crowd in the short history of major-league baseball in South Florida had come to see the Marlins celebrate the greatest sporting achievement by a local professional team since the Miami Dolphins won two Super Bowls in three years from 1972-74. Instead, they watched the Indians crank up the pressure by forcing a decisive seventh game.
Left-hander Al Leiter is scheduled to take the mound for the Marlins tonight, apparently against Indians rookie Jaret Wright. Indians veteran Charles Nagy has been listed as the tentative starter, but he was up in the bullpen during last night's game, which points to a likely last-minute switch by manager Mike Hargrove.
The Marlins didn't want it to come to this. They had the cheap champagne on ice and their top regular-season pitcher on the mound last night, but Brown again found himself struggling to keep the game under control. He had given up six runs on 10 hits over six innings on the way to a loss in Game 2, and battled control in the early innings last night.
It didn't help when Bobby Bonilla turned a playable bouncer by Matt Williams into a leadoff single in the second inning. Brown walked two of the next three batters and then engaged in a surprisingly tough one-on-one battle with Ogea, who fought off a pair of two-strike pitches -- even fouled one off his face -- before lining a two-run single to right field.
What a time for Ogea's first major-league hit. He did not bat in the 1995 World Series and was hitless in two interleague at-bats this year, but he became the first American League pitcher to have a multi-RBI game in the World Series since Oakland A's pitcher Mike Moore drove in two runs in Game 4 of the 1989 "Earthquake Series" against the San Francisco Giants.
He wasn't through. Ogea led off the fifth inning with a sharp grounder down the right-field line and legged out a double, becoming the first pitcher to have a multi-hit game in the World Series since David Cone had two hits for the Toronto Blue Jays against Atlanta in 1992.
Interestingly enough, the last pitcher to get more than two hits in a game was teammate Orel Hershiser, who had three hits for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 against the Oakland A's in 1988. Perhaps just as interesting, Ogea was using a Hershiser-signature bat in last night's game.
Bip Roberts moved Ogea to third with a single and Manny Ramirez brought him home with his second sacrifice fly of the game. Ramirez also had driven in a run with a flyout in the third inning, after Omar Vizquel bounced a double over first baseman Jeff Conine and brazenly stole third ahead of a throw from All-Star catcher Charles Johnson.
Ogea cruised through the early innings without incident. He didn't give up his first hit until Devon White singled with two outs in the third and did not face a serious scoring threat until Moises Alou and Johnson opened the fifth with back-to-back singles. The Marlins finally broke through when pinch hitter Darren Daulton lined out to right field to score Alou from third.
Once again, the Indians' offense kept the pressure off. Ogea went through the first two playoff series without getting a single run of offensive support. He pitched well twice against the Orioles in the ALCS, but took the loss when Scott Erickson pitched a shutout in Game 1 and when Scott Kamieniecki and Jimmy Key strung together eight scoreless innings in Game 5.
In each of his two World Series starts, Ogea has had comfortable early leads. He pitched into the seventh inning in Game 2 and gave up just a run on seven hits to record his first World Series victory. The Marlins appeared to have him on the ropes in the fifth inning last night, but he got Edgar Renteria to ground out weakly with two runners on and the heart of the Florida lineup just ahead.
Hargrove had him on a short leash, going to the bullpen when Ogea walked right fielder Gary Sheffield to lead off the sixth. Hargrove obviously hadn't forgotten the lesson he learned in Game 1, when the rigors of pitching and hitting caught up with starter Orel Hershiser in the fourth inning.