New York Orlando Hernandez and the New York Yankees showed the young Oakland Athletics how postseason baseball is played.
Hernandez, pitching without his best stuff, won his sixth straight postseason decision, and the Yankees capitalized on Oakland's shoddy defense to win 4-2 Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in their AL division series.
"This is what we strive for," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We've been here before and had success and we like the taste of winning."
Written off by many after losing the opener in the best-of-five series at Oakland their eighth straight loss dating to the regular season the two-time defending World Series champions will send Roger Clemens (13-8) to the mound in Game 4 Saturday night against rookie Barry Zito (7-4).
"We've been a lot crisper ballclub since the postseason started," Torre said. "Hopefully we are on our way to doing something special this year."
Hernandez battled through seven tough innings with help from his defense before turning the game over to closer Mariano Rivera, who saved New York's 10th straight postseason win at Yankee Stadium.
Rivera tied Dennis Eckersley's record of 15 postseason saves. El Duque allowed two runs, four hits and five walks, needing 130 pitches to do it. The Cuban defector had a sub-.500 regular season, but improved to 6-0 with a 1.24 ERA in seven postseason starts.
Hernandez's half-brother, Livan, beat the New York Mets on Wednesday for San Francisco to go to 5-0 in the postseason.
"For the first five innings my control was terrible and my team was encouraging me," Hernandez said through a translator. "After the fifth inning Mr. Torre pulled me aside and said stop battling yourself and pitch your game."
The Yankees couldn't mount much offensively against Tim Hudson, but took advantage of two errors, a couple of defensive lapses and two infield choppers to score their runs.
"We just didn't execute tonight. It was as simple as that," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "We didn't make the plays we can make."
The A's, who have eight players who are 25 years old or younger, insisted that they wouldn't be spooked by playing at Yankee Stadium. But their play in the field indicated otherwise.
"We knew we were coming home to our crowd, and our crowd could be very overwhelming to the opposing team," New York's David Justice said. "I don't think they're afraid. I think they just made a couple of misplays that we took advantage of."
Bernie Williams led off the second inning with a double for New York and Paul O'Neill chopped a one-out infield single over Hudson's head for his first hit of the series.
Glenallen Hill then hit a chopper that Hudson was able to field. But the 25-year-old right-hander threw home with no chance to catch the speedy Williams. Giving up the easy out at first ended up costing Hudson when Derek Jeter hit a two-out infield single that shortstop Miguel Tejada couldn't backhand cleanly to give New York a 2-1 lead.
"When they had their chances, we gave them opportunities," Hudson said.