CLEVELAND - Emotions ran over all around Eddie Murray in Game 3 of the World Series last night. Anger, in the Indians' pregame meeting. Excitement, when they took an early three-run lead against Atlanta. Fear, when the Indians blew the lead in the eighth. Relief, when they tied the score and played into extra innings.
Murray was hitless in his first five at-bats, but after each failure, he would walk back to the dugout and gently place his helmet back in the rack. Emotionless _ until his RBI single off Alejandro Pena in the 11th inning to beat Atlanta, 7-6. Pinch-runner Alvaro Espinoza scored the winning run at 12:42 a.m., the latest game in the history of the World Series.
And when he rounded first and was enveloped by teammates, Murray smiled a big smile. Facing the possibility of going down three games to none _ and no team has ever won after going down 3-0 in the World Series _ and they had survived. Cleveland's Ken Hill pitches against Atlanta's Steve Avery tonight in Game 4.
'It should have been over with a lot sooner,' Murray said. 'This one would've been hard to swallow, but we stopped them a few times. This is a great one to win, and hopefully, we'll turn this series around.'
Game 3 had many turns. The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the first, Cleveland scored two in the first and third innings and led, 4-1. Homers by Fred McGriff and Ryan Klesko pulled the Braves back into the game. Cleveland scored a seventh-inning run, and led 5-3.
But Atlanta scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning, taking the lead on a pinch-hit single by former Oriole outfielder Mike Devereaux. Despite a wind-chill factor of 29 degrees, the Braves dugout was hot with emotion. Six more outs and they would be in complete control of this series. The Indians dugout was silent, sedate.
Before the game, the Indians players had booted the coaches from the clubhouse and called a meeting, in which, second baseman Carlos Baerga said, they encouraged each other to just be themselves. Don't press. Let your talent come through. 'To me,' said third baseman Jim Thome, 'that was a big key.'
Bottom of the eighth, and the Indians rallied against Braves reliever Greg McMichael, putting runners at the corners with one out. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox called for closer Mark Wohlers, figuring he could get the last five outs.
However, Sandy Alomar, Jr. smacked a double down the right field line, scoring the tying run. Wohlers escaped further damage by striking out Omar Vizquel and getting a groundout from Carlos Baerga, but the Tribe lived.
Cleveland benefitted from a move by manager Mike Hargrove in the top of the ninth inning. Herbert Perry replaced Paul Sorrento for defense, and with two outs and runners at first and second, Chipper Jones pulled a ball down the first base line, and Perry fielded a strange hop and stepped on first. 'It definitely saved the game,' Hargrove said.
Cox and Hargrove stuck with their closers, knowing the importance of the game. Jose Mesa entered in the top of the ninth, and he would pitch through the 11th inning. 'We really had no choice in the matter,' Hargrove said later. 'We had to win tonight.'
The Braves threatened in the top of the 10th, and couldn't score. The Indians had runners at first and third and two outs in the bottom of the 10th against Mark Wohlers _ pitching in his third inning _ and Vizquel grounded out.
Mark Lemke singled to open the 11th for the Braves, but failed to advance when Atlanta couldn't get a bunt down. Marquis Grissom grounded into a doubleplay, and the television monitors showed Cox blanching in the dugout.
'We both had chances,' he said later. 'Back and forth. Sooner or later, one of us was going to score.'
Finally, in the bottom of the 11th, Cox replaced Wohlers, a move which Hargrove said definitely improved the chances of Cleveland pulling out a win. As Pena warmed up, a coach ran up into the clubhouse to tell Espinoza that if the lead-off hitter, Baerga, reached second base, then he would pinch-run. Espinoza began running back and forth, trying to get warm, trying to get ready.
Baerga battled Pena, following off a number of pitches before turning and hammering a ball into the gap. Baerga, hobbled by a sprained ankle, limped into second base. Espinoza jammed on a helmet and ran out to replace his teammate.
Albert Belle was due next, the 50-homer, 50-double guy. No way was he going to hit with first base open. Cox ordered an intentional walk. Besides, the on-deck batter _ Murray _ was having a horrible night.
Murray stood in, looking for a fastball, and Espinoza glanced behind him to check on the outfielders. Grissom was shaded over toward left field.
Pena threw a fastball, as Murray had suspected he would, and the ex-Orioles smashed it over second base, a line drive. Espinoza knew immediately Grissom could not catch it, he knew he would score.
Somebody asked Kenny Lofton, who had three hits and three runs scored and played splendidly, about how awful it would've been to go down 3-0 in the series. 'I never thought about losing that game,' said Lofton, 'so I can't answer that question.'
Another emotion, the lasting emotion: Ecstacy.
Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves
Last night: Indians, 7-6, 11 innings
Series: Braves lead 2-1
Game 4: Tonight, 8:20, Jacobs Field, Cleveland, chs. 2, 7
Starters: Braves' Steve Avery (8-13, 4.55) vs. Indians' Ken Hill
Note: Pitchers' records include postseason