Yankees do it again, 3-2

Brosius' two-run HR in 9th ties it

Soriano's RBI wins it in 12th

N.Y. takes 3-2 Series lead

D'backs closer Kim gives up 2-out homer for 2nd straight night

World Series

November 02, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - The New York Yankees followed Wednesday's improbable win with the unbelievable last night.

Alfonso Soriano's opposite-field, 12th-inning single off Albie Lopez scored Chuck Knoblauch to complete a carbon comeback and give the Yankees a 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of a rapidly shrinking World Series.

Three innings before Soriano ended the game, third baseman Scott Brosius extended it with a two-out, two-run home run against star-crossed closer Byung-Hyun Kim. The ninth-inning homer repeated the same heroics by first baseman Tino Martinez of the night before.

After losing the first two games of the Series, the Yankees have grabbed a 3-2 lead in a way that is as levitating to them as it is devastating to a fourth-year franchise.

The series returns to Phoenix tomorrow night, when the Yankees will attempt to clinch a fourth consecutive world championship and fifth in sixth years. The Diamondbacks will try to rally behind aces Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling but must first try to forget a nightmare that repeats.

In a lightning span of four hitters, Kim undid the remarkable work of starting pitcher Miguel Batista, who allowed the Yankees nothing more than five singles in 7 2/3 shutout innings. As Yankee Stadium quaked, Kim could not bring himself to look around him. Several teammates drew close to console the 22-year-old South Korean before manager Bob Brenly summoned Mike Morgan to complete the inning.

As stunning as Wednesday's loss had been, last night's was unthinkable to a team that today would be celebrating its first world championship had it simply closed a pair of two-run, ninth-inning leads.

Aside from Batista's performance, the Diamondbacks received fifth-inning home runs for center fielder Steve Finley and rookie catcher Rod Barajas to take a 2-0 lead. Given a tidy ninth inning from Kim, the Diamondbacks would have returned home riding a storybook win. Instead, they must wonder if they carry an irreparably damaged closer.

Kim pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of Wednesday's loss, making him unavailable before last night's ninth inning. Like the night before, he retired two of the first three hitters faced before committing the same mistakes.

Just as Martinez had been 0-for-10 before hitting Wednesday's game-tying home run, Brosius was struggling at 3-for-16 in the series. Brosius recovered when Kim fed him a 1-0 pitch that caught too much plate by burying his home run into the lower level of the left-field stands. Kim converted 19 of 23 saves during the season but none came in the caldron of emotion Yankee Stadium represents in October and, now, November.

The Yankees make such reversals doubly devastating with the presence of Mariano Rivera. Their closer entered the tie game against Morgan, a 42-year-old right-hander appearing in his first World Series. The Diamandbacks outlasted Rivera by sending the game to the 12th inning.

The Diamondbacks actually threatened Rivera in the 11th by creating a bases-loaded jam with one out. But as if merely to intensify the Diamondbacks' angst, second baseman Alfonso Soriano saved at least one run by making a backhand, diving catch of Reggie Sanders' looping line drive. Rivera completed his escape by getting Mark Grace to ground out.

Batista, an arbitration-eligible pitcher making $400,000, was paired against the former Oriole who drew a $10 million first installment on a six-year, $88.5 million contract. Barajas earned $208,000 as the third catcher on the Diamondbacks' organizational chart.

Batista had replaced rent-an-arm Lopez in the playoff rotation and responded with an important win over Atlanta in the National League Championship Series.

Barajas' start was by accident. Damian Miller's accident.

Miller, the Diamondbacks' starting catcher, injured his right calf muscle during his eventful Game 3 performance in which he whiffed on three pop-ups. Miller played all of Wednesday's 4-3 Game 4 loss but was unable to return last night. It became a stroke of genius for manager Bob Brenly.

Barajas, barely 26, has spent minor pieces of the past three seasons with the Diamondbacks. Signed out of a tryout camp in 1996, Barajas entered the postseason with a .178 average in 135 major-league at-bats. He hit three home runs in his first seven games with the Diamondbacks this season, then went without in his last 38 appearances before last night.

He was equally undistinguished as a catch-and-throw talent: He caught only four of 27 would-be base-stealers this season. But even that trend would fall as Barajas threw out Alfonso Soriano in the third inning.

Barajas wouldn't even have been in the ballpark last night if not for the bizarre events that led to the release of former reserve catcher Mike DiFelice, who was arrested in Pittsburgh in August on three counts of assault stemming from a bar incident. The charges were dropped this week.

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