New York The Seattle Mariners had no must-win games as they coasted through their record-setting regular season. They're quickly getting the hang of how to win them in the postseason.
Bret Boone drove in five runs, Mark McLemore hit a bases-loaded triple and Jamie Moyer saved Seattle's season again as the Mariners beat the New York Yankees 14-3 in Game 3 of the AL championship series Saturday.
After showing no resemblance to a 116-win team in the first two games in Seattle, the Mariners got the break they needed with two outs in the fifth inning on Boone's game-tying hit which bounced out of Chuck Knoblauch's glove.
"Boy, once that ball fell in, the guys perked up and started swinging," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said.
The Mariners added 12 more runs in the next four innings for the most runs against the Yankees in 285 postseason games.
Seattle cut New York's series lead to 2-1 in the series by winning its third must-win game in a week. The Mariners won two elimination games against Cleveland in the opening round.
"We know what they're capable of," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"You don't win 116 games and put up the numbers they put up if you're not capable of beating people's brains in."
Game 4 of the ALCS is today with Roger Clemens pitching for New York against Paul Abbott. The Mariners need to win one of the next two games to fulfill Piniella's promise that the series would return to Seattle for Game 6.
"I said the things I said because I have confidence in this team and I believe in them," Piniella said.
That prospect appeared extremely unlikely when the three-time defending World Series champions took a 2-0 lead on Bernie Williams' first-inning homer and Orlando Hernandez shut out Seattle for four innings.
But baseball's highest-scoring team held to 20 runs in the first seven games of the playoffs finally broke through with help from sloppy New York defense and the ball that bounced out of Knoblauch's glove as the left fielder tried to make a diving catch.
"It's been frustrating for me personally," said Boone, who had no RBIs in the first seven games of the playoffs. "It's been a little bit frustrating for all of us because we haven't been producing like we have all year. The blooper that fell in was big."
Moyer, who has three of Seattle's four wins in the postseason, kept the Mariners in it until the offense woke up.
Known for disrupting hitters' timing, Moyer has had perfect timing of his own in the postseason. After winning a career-high 20 games in the regular season, Moyer has had his three most important victories in the past nine days.
Moyer won Game 2 of the opening round to even Seattle's series against Cleveland and also beat the Indians in the clincher.
With the Mariners facing the prospects of falling behind 3-0 in the ALCS a deficit that has never been overcome in best-of-seven series in baseball history Moyer baffled the Yankees.
"He's been pitching that way the whole second half of the season," Piniella said. "It's been fun to watch him the way he changes speed, pitches to both sides of the plate and makes the other team put the ball in play."
Rarely throwing a pitch faster than 85 mph, Moyer relies on pinpoint control and changing speeds. After allowing Williams' homer in the first, he didn't give up another hit until Seattle had a seven-run lead in the sixth.
Moyer, helped by a home-run saving catch by Stan Javier, allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings to win for the 14th time in 15 decisions.
Moyer's start was going to waste until the Mariners' finally got to Hernandez in the fifth.
El Duque, who fell to 9-2 in the postseason, gave up a one-out single to Tom Lampkin before walking lefties Ichiro Suzuki and McLemore to load the bases with two outs.
Hernandez, whose tricky breaking pitches have helped hold righties to a .193 average in his career, appeared to be using a smart strategy. He retired the first eight righties he faced Saturday and Boone was 4-for-30 in the postseason after leading the AL with 141 RBIs in the regular season.
Boone hit a looper into shallow left field. Knoblauch, a converted second baseman, charged in to get to the ball, but it popped out of his glove as he hit the ground, allowing the Mariners to tie it at 2.
"We were sitting on the bench thinking that might be our chance, that might be our break. And it was," Al Martin said.
It was Seattle's first hit in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series, and appeared to take the pressure off the Mariners' hitters.
"When they tied the game up, it sort of let them breathe a little bit," Torre said.
John Olerud led off the seven-run, sixth inning with a tiebreaking homer off the facade of the upper deck in right field that gave Seattle it's first lead of the series.
Hernandez was knocked out after allowing a single to Javier and walking Mike Cameron his fifth of the game.
Then New York's normally reliable relievers self-destructed. Mike Stanton, who entered with a 0.97 postseason ERA, made a poor decision on pinch-hitter Dan Wilson's bunt, throwing wildly to third base for a run-scoring error.
With one out, the Yankees intentionally walked Suzuki before McLemore broke the game open with his triple into the left-center field gap.
"We had a pretty good idea we were not going to sweep those guys," Stanton said. "You don't win 116 games during the regular season by being an OK team. They have a great team."
Boone followed with a two-run homer off Mark Wohlers to make it 9-2 and match the biggest inning in ALCS history. Boone added an RBI single after Wohlers' throwing error in the seventh to tie the ALCS record for RBIs in a game.
Jay Buhner hit a pinch-hit homer off Jay Witasick in the ninth just the second homer to reach the center-field bleachers in the postseason at the remodeled Yankee Stadium. Reggie Jackson also did it in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.