TORONTO -- It was almost as if this one was scripted by the gods of misadventures.
In one of the most storied World Series ever played, the Toronto Blue Jays staged one of the most remarkable turnarounds in history here last night. In the process, they beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-6, to become the first team in 15 years to win back-to-back championships.
A three-run home run by Joe Carter with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning off Mitch Williams, the Phillies' erratic closer, carried the Blue Jays to their dramatic victory.
The final rally rubbed out an equally stunning comeback by the Phillies, who wiped out a 5-1 deficit in the seventh to take the lead 6-5 with the help of Len Dykstra's three-run homer. But the Phillies could not live with the prosperity.
To the bitter end, Phillies manager Jim Fregosi stayed with the partners who took him to the dance. And in the end, he got stood up.
Williams, ineffective throughout much of the postseason, finally lit the fuse to an explosion from which the Phillies could not escape. He gave up a walk to leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson to start the ninth inning, got Devon White to fly out, then surrendered a single to series MVP Paul Molitor before Carter sent his shot down the left-field line.
Williams, who was also the loser in the Phillies' bitterly disappointing, 15-14 loss in Game 4, and his teammates didn't bother to look. The sound was all too familiar as 52,195 SkyDome spectators erupted to start a joyous celebration that would last into the wee hours of the morning.
Molitor, who had three hits, including a home run, a run-producing triple, and the hit that preceded Carter's home run, capped an incredible year by earning MVP honors.
"When I chose to sign with the Blue Jays, it was a difficult decision [after 15 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers]," he said. "But once I came over here, I started to have visions that the Blue Jays could be the first team in 15 years to win the World Series back-to-back.
"I didn't want to say anything while we were still playing, but it's been the best year I've had. I can't explain why, at age 37 and with all of the injuries I've had, that would happen, but it did.
"To win a game like that is a feeling you can't describe," said Molitor. "What was it -- the first time since 1960?"
Indeed, Carter's game-winner marked the first time that the World Series ended with a home run since Bill Mazeroski's homer gave the Pirates a 10-9 win over the Yankees in Game 7 in 1960. But that home run merely broke a tie, it did not bring the Pirates from behind to win.
Carter, who caught the ball for the last out when the Blue Jays clinched the World Series last year and the ALCS this year, had said he either wanted to do it again, or drive in the winning run.
"When you're behind in the ninth inning, you can't very well catch the third out," said Carter. "But when Mitch [Williams] came in, we knew something good was going to happen," said Carter, fully aware that the Phillies closer had been having more than his share of problems.
"I hadn't faced him since he was in Texas [with the Rangers], but I knew his velocity wasn't good and that the only pitch he was getting over was the slider. On the 2-and-1 pitch, I swung through the ball, and then I told myself 'just get a hit, you don't have to hit a home run.'
"He threw me a slider, down and in, and I'm definitely a low-ball hitter. When I hit it, I lost it in the lights and I didn't know if it was high enough [to clear the fence]. When I saw it go over -- you saw me jumping up and down, but you can't believe how I felt."
Fregosi is certain to be criticized again for relying too heavily on Williams -- for the second time in three games Roger Mason was removed after pitching more than two scoreless innings. He went 2 2/3 in the scoring spree that was Game 4 and 2 1/3 last night.
Mason had retired seven batters in a row after giving up a single to Roberto Alomar, the first batter he faced in the sixth inning. David West and Larry Andersen proceeded to load the bases on walks in the eighth before catcher Pat Borders finally popped out to end a tense inning.
Then "The Wild Thing" appeared to start the bottom of the ninth and Fregosi was offering no apologies. "Mitch has been our closer all year," said Fregosi. "He's one of the reasons we're here."
And probably the primary reason why Canada today is celebrating its second straight World Series championship. Duane Ward, the last of four Blue Jays pitchers, got the win, while Williams was charged with his loss and second blown save of the series.
"I was trying to pitch him away," Williams said. "I'm not going to commit suicide. I have next year to worry about and we'll have a good team.
"I felt very good coming in," Williams added. "I didn't have anything in Game 4, but I can't say that was the reason this time. It was one pitch, the season is over."
In the beginning, it hardly looked like the end would be so dramatic.
For the third time in the past four games, the Blue Jays opened by putting a three-spot on the board. Phillies starter Terry Mulholland struggled from the start in the first inning.
Devon White drew a one-out walk before line drives started to find gaps in the outfield. Molitor took a high pitch the other way, rifling a drive deep to right-center field for a triple to drive in the first run.
Carter then barely missed a "big fly," undercutting a towering fly to the warning track in left field, settling for a sacrifice fly instead. The early pounding didn't stop there as John Olerud also went to the opposite field, with a double.
The final run of the inning was delivered on Alomar's single to center.
Despite a slight malfunction with his control, Toronto starter Dave Stewart held the Phillies hitless through three innings and allowed only one run over the first six. A slicing double to left field by Darren Daulton and Jim Eisenreich's single, both with two outs, enabled the Phillies to put a run on the scoreboard in the fourth.
In the fifth inning, the Blue Jays' usually reliable defense gave the NL champs a chance to get back into the hunt.
Errors by second baseman Alomar and third baseman Ed Sprague, whose sacrifice fly made it 4-1 in the fourth, and a walk to John Kruk loaded the bases with two outs. Stewart escaped by getting Dave Hollins to ground out.
That run was quickly negated when Molitor, serenaded on his way to the plate by chants of "MVP, MVP," crushed his home run into the second deck in left field. It was the seventh, and last, hit allowed by Mulholland, who left a 5-1 deficit when he departed after five innings.
But Stewart could make that lead stand up for only another inning as he gave the Phillies' potent offense one chance too many.
With two on, Stewart fell behind in the count, 3-and-1 to Dykstra. The Phillies' catalyst came up swinging on the next offering, blasting his fourth homer of the Series into the second deck in right field.
Suddenly, it was 5-4, Stewart was gone and the Jays were in deep trouble. Danny Cox tried to plug the dike, but his stuff wasn't strong enough. Mariano Duncan singled and, after Kruk struck out, stole second.
When Hollins singled, the score was tied. Daulton walked and Eisenreich bounced an infield hit to load the bases.
That was all for Cox, and pinch hitter Pete Incaviglia greeted Al Leiter with a sacrifice fly and the Phillies had the lead.
Blue Jays-Phillies scoring
Blue Jays first: Henderson lined to center fielder Dykstra. White walked. Molitor tripled to right-center, White scored. Carter hit sacrifice fly to left fielder Thompson, Molitor scored. Olerud doubled to left-center. Alomar singled to center, Olerud scored. Fernandez flied to center fielder Dykstra. 3 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Blue Jays 3, Phillies 0.
Phillies fourth: Kruk grounded to pitcher Stewart. Hollins fouled to Sprague. Daulton doubled to left. Eisenreich singled to center, Daulton scored. Thompson grounded to second baseman Alomar. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Blue Jays 3, Phillies 1.
Blue Jays fourth: Alomar doubled to left. Fernandez grounded to shortstop Stocker, Alomar to third. Sprague hit sacrifice fly to right fielder Eisenreich, Alomar scored. Borders singled to center. Henderson grounded to pitcher Mulholland. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Blue Jays 4, Phillies 1.
Blue Jays fifth: White lined to right fielder Eisenreich. Molitor homered to left on 1-1 count. Carter grounded to third baseman Hollins. Olerud lined to center fielder Dykstra. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Blue Jays 5, Phillies 1.
Phillies seventh: Stocker walked. Morandini singled to left-center, Stocker to third. Dykstra homered to right on 3-1 count, Stocker, Morandini and Dykstra scored. Cox relieved Stewart. Duncan singled to center. Kruk struck out. Duncan stole second. Hollins singled to center, Duncan scored. Daulton walked, Hollins to second. Eisenreich singled to shortstop, Hollins to third, Daulton to second. Leiter relieved Cox. Incaviglia, pinch hitting for Thompson, hit a sacrifice fly to center fielder White, Hollins scored, Daulton to third. Stocker struck out. 5 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Phillies 6, Blue Jays 5.
Blue Jays ninth: Mitch Williams pitching. Batiste to third base. Henderson walked. White flied to left fielder Incaviglia. Molitor singled to center, Henderson to second. Carter homered to left on 2-2 count, Henderson, Molitor and Carter scored. 3 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. TORONTO BLUE JAYS Blue Jays win series, 4-2 Gm. Result
Blue Jays 8, Phillies 5
2 Phillies 6, Blue Jays 4
3 Blue Jays 10, Phillies 3
4 Blue Jays 15, Phillies 14
5 Phillies 2, Blue Jays 0
6 Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6