Johnson saves Seattle again Mariners top Yanks, 7-4, force 4th game


SEATTLE -- If the Seattle Mariners succeed in getting public financing for a new stadium, it should immediately be nicknamed "The House that Randy Built."

Mariners left-hander Randy Johnson may have saved the franchise with his division-clinching performance on Monday and he kept his team's pennant hopes alive with another clutch game last night, holding the New York Yankees to four hits over seven innings in a 7-4 playoff victory at the jam-packed -- though supposedly baseball-unfriendly -- Kingdome.

The Mariners trail the divisional series, two games to one, but a big performance by veteran right-hander Chris Bosio tonight would put them in position to sweep the home portion of the best-of-five playoff and advance to the American League Championship Series. Still a long shot, but you'd never know it by the reaction of the 57,944 who shouted the Yankees down while Johnson was shutting them down.

Johnson struck out 10 and was in trouble only once on the way to his club's first postseason victory. The Mariners got a scare when he was lifted after the seventh and reliever Bill Risley gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced in the eighth, but there will be a Game 4 tonight, thanks to Johnson and a four-RBI performance by first baseman Tino Martinez.

"Tonight, pitching on three days' rest, obviously I was physically and emotionally drained after my last start," Johnson said. "I was pitching mostly on adrenalin. I felt it was a little bit more of a do-or-die situation than the Angels, and I do believe that I was pitching more on adrenalin than physical ability. . . . I didn't have my good stuff, but that shows that I can pitch without it."

It also shows that the hard-throwing, all-or-nothing pitcher who broke into the majors with the Montreal Expos in 1988 has matured into a versatile veteran who can win under any condition.

"The difference in Randy is that he's a pitcher now," said Yankees manager Buck Showalter. "He can spin the ball for strikes and he can sink it for strikes. We had a chance to hit him, but he pitched tonight. That's a testament to the job he's done."

It was one of the biggest pitching matchups in playoff history -- literally. Johnson, at 6 feet 10, is the tallest player in major-league history and Yankees starter Jack McDowell is an intimidating presence at 6-5. Both are dominating pitchers when they are at their best, but most of the pre-game attention was focused on Johnson, who had overpowered the California Angels to put the Mariners in the postseason for the first time in their 19-year history.

"I felt like I had the weight of all Washington on my shoulders," Johnson said.

He was the first to blink last night, giving up a bases-empty homer to Bernie Williams in the fourth that broke a scoreless tie, but Martinez gave him a big lift with a two-run shot in the fifth that put the Mariners on top. Though Johnson wasn't nearly as overpowering as he had been Monday against the Angels, he gave up just the one hit through five innings and had enough to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.

That inning would be the turning point. The Yankees ran themselves out of a possible big inning when Randy Velarde overran second base on a single by Williams and right fielder Jay Buhner made a perfect throw behind him for the second out of the inning. Mike Stanley followed with a single and Ruben Sierra walked on four pitches, but Johnson struck out Don Mattingly to end the inning.

McDowell carried a shutout into the fifth, but he didn't figure to keep the heart of the explosive Mariners lineup quiet forever. He gave up a two-run homer to Martinez in the fifth and left the game for reliever Steve Howe after the Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the sixth.

That's when the possibility of a Yankees sweep disappeared. Martinez greeted Howe with a run-scoring single and Buhner greeted Bob Wickman with a line drive to right for another run. An infield hit and a sacrifice fly later and the Mariners could safely look ahead to Game 4 tonight.

AL playoffs

Red Sox vs. Indians

Last night: Indians 8, Red Sox 2

Series: Indians win 3-0

Mariners vs. Yankees

Last night: Mariners 7, Yankees 4

Series: Yankees lead 2-1

Game 4: Tonight, 8:07, Kingdome, Seattle

Starters: Yankees' Scott Kamieniecki (7-6, 4.01) vs. Mariners' Chris Bosio (10-8, 4.97)

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