Clemens throws off D'backs

`Rocket,' Rivera whiff 13 in 3-hit, 2-1 win to slice Arizona lead

Schilling to pitch Game 4

Diamondbacks drop pop-ups, game as N.Y. shines in field

World Series

October 31, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Showing they'll remain defending world champions until someone can prove otherwise, the New York Yankees exploited seven driven innings from starting pitcher Roger Clemens, an ugly defensive performance by a nervous opponent and a dominant performance from closer Mariano Rivera to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2-1, in Game 3 of the World Series last night at Yankee Stadium.

Played out before a chanting crowd of 55,820 including President George W. Bush, the combination three-hitter allowed the three-time defending world champions to halve the Diamondbacks' lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven event.

More importantly, the Yankees forced rookie manager Bob Brenly into the Series' pivotal decision: to start Game 1 winner Curt Schilling tonight on three days' rest for the first time in his career.

"Curt Schilling is going to start tomorrow because he's the right guy to start tomorrow," Brenly said.

Third baseman Scott Brosius' two-out, sixth-inning single against Diamondbacks reliever Mike Morgan broke a 1-1 tie that had defied three errors, as many wild pitches and Clemens' lockdown.

"This was a big win. This was a game we had to have," said Brosius, who had struggled for much of the postseason before his telling hit.

Brenly called his decision "the great gamble" even before the loss. Unafraid of the unorthodox all season, his decision creates another question regarding a Game 5 starter as he is reluctant to bring back Game 2 winner Randy Johnson on three days' rest.

"That's been the dilemma throughout this thing and why I've tap-danced around this question as often as I have," Brenly said. "The big question in a seven-game series - are you better served having your two horses go two times on regular rest or five times with three starts coming on short rest? Once again, the numbers say that it's not a percentage play to bring them back on short rest. But these guys are not your run-of-the-mill, ordinary pitchers."

Schilling threw a complete game three-hitter at the Yankees on Saturday and had lobbied Brenly for tonight's opportunity.

"He didn't do cartwheels and he didn't look at me like I was crazy," Brenly said.

Brenly had clutched his choice of starters before the game like a poker player holding an uncertain hand. Though his team still leads the Series, pitching Miguel Batista tonight as originally projected would leave the Diamondbacks vulnerable to a possible Game 7. Schilling's return tonight potentially makes him available for the decisive game.

Yankees manager Joe Torre has no such predicament. He will send Orlando Hernandez tonight knowing that Clemens could return on regular rest for a Game 7.

"That's been the rumor the whole time," Torre said of Schilling. "It doesn't surprise me. If the scoreboard was right, Batista was up warming. Even in a tie game, that's what Bob was planning to do. We'll show up."

The Diamondbacks would be well-advised to come dressed tonight for All Hallows as National League champions.

Bush arrived via helicopter about an hour before the first pitch. His presence became the centerpiece for a security sweep that had all fans pass through metal detectors and media stand in hourlong lines to have equipment and identification checked.

Police passed magnetic wands over players as they entered the stadium, a procedure no one complained about given the unprecedented circumstances in which the game was played.

"We all have to have patience for what's going on in the world today. We certainly want the world to be a safe place to live. We've all been spoiled by being free to go wherever we please," said Torre.

Met by a powerful wave of applause, Bush emerged from the Yankees dugout to throw a ceremonial first-pitch strike followed by a thumbs up. The president then sat in shirt sleeves in owner George Steinbrenner's box with, among others, his wife and daughter, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, New York Gov. George Pataki, comedian Billy Crystal and Regis Philbin, who became the answer to the trivia question: Who wants to be a hanger-on?

Beyond the bomb-sniffing dogs and Jersey walls, the night was wrapped poignantly within reminders of Sept. 11, including a torn American flag from the World Trade Center that fluttered from atop the center-field facade. An F-14 shook the stadium after the son of a New York City fire chief sang the national anthem.

The moment of reflection then became a night of immediacy for the Yankees, well aware that no team had ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven postseason series. Indeed, no team in such a predicament has ever forced a seventh game.

Brian Anderson vs. Clemens resembled a Classic mismatch. The Diamondbacks left-hander had not started since Sept. 8 and allowed 25 home runs in 133 1/3 innings this season.

Better known in Baltimore as the Cleveland Indians' pivotal 11th pitcher in their upset of the Orioles in the 1997 American League Championship Series, Anderson entered with a 8.50 ERA against the Yankees.

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