MIAMI -- The Florida Marlins had the 93rd World Series all laid out. They had a win in the bank and their pitching ace on the mound with a chance to sweep the first two games at Pro Player Stadium and send the Cleveland Indians home at a huge disadvantage.
In other words, the Indians had them right where they wanted them.
Cleveland starter Chad Ogea pitched another resourceful game and the Indians peppered Marlins ace Kevin Brown with 10 hits in six innings on the way to a 6-1 victory that evened the best-of-seven Fall Classic at a game apiece.
Sound familiar? The Indians lost the first game of the Division Series before rallying to eliminate the favored New York Yankees. They dropped the opener before defeating the favored Orioles in the American League Championship Series. Now, they are trying to work the same magic against the Marlins.
The Series resumes tomorrow night in Cleveland, when Indians right-hander Charles Nagy faces Florida's Al Leiter in the first of three games at deafening Jacobs Field. They have reclaimed the home-field advantage and hope to exploit their hostile environment to move a few steps closer to the franchise's first world championship since 1948.
Ogea worked 6 2/3 innings and gave up a run on seven hits to record his first postseason victory. He gave up a run in the first inning, but tiptoed through the powerful Marlins lineup until the Indians scored five times in the middle innings to break open another close game.
"That was the third quality start that Chad has given us in this postseason," manager Mike Hargrove said. "When he locates his changeup and his fastball, he can be very effective."
The six runs certainly didn't hurt. That had to be a refreshing switch for the 26-year-old right-hander, who had gotten no run support in his five previous postseason appearances dating to 1995.
He had made two starts and three relief appearances, but when the Indians scored in the first inning last night, it was the first run the club had scored while he was in the game.
"It works both ways," Ogea said afterward. "Sometimes you pitch well and don't get any runs. Sometimes you pitch well and get a lot of runs. And sometimes you don't pitch well and you still get a lot of runs. Our team turned it up tonight."
The Indians scored all six runs against Brown, who had been the Marlins' workhorse in the Division Series and National League Championship Series.
Bip Roberts drove in two runs with a fifth-inning single and Sandy Alomar hit his fourth home run of the postseason with a man on in the sixth to make the lead comfortable, but the Indians got a contribution from almost every slot in the lineup. Outfielder Manny Ramirez was the only non-pitcher to go without at least one hit.
"I think tonight [Kevin] had his arm in a different slot," said Marlins manager Jim Leyland. "I think he was throwing from different slots and it seemed like he was searching for the right release point and couldn't find it. I think basically that was his problem."
Once again, the Indians jumped out in front in the first inning and, once again, they scored the first run of the game on a single by left fielder David Justice. The night before, the Marlins came back to tie the score in the third inning and then took control of the game when Moises Alou and Charles Johnson smashed back-to-back home runs in the fourth.
This time, they answered back immediately. Edgar Renteria singled to center with one out in the bottom of the first and Gary Sheffield was hit on the hand by a pitch before Jeff Conine lined a hit up the middle to bring home the run.
Sheffield gave the Marlins a real scare. It was obvious that he was in severe pain after the Ogea fastball ran in on his hands and hit him right below the left wrist. Leyland and Marlins trainer Kevin Rand hovered over him for a couple of minutes before he shook off the sting and went to first base.
"I was thinking the worst when it hit me because I've broken hands before," said Sheffield, who was on the disabled list in May with a sore left thumb and still heavily tapes the hand. "Hopefully, I can get some ice on it tonight and will be able to bounce back."
Conine did not start Game 1, but the RBI single was his second of the series. He entered the opener as a defensive replacement in the fifth inning and singled home the Marlins' sixth run of that game in his first World Series at-bat.
"I got out of a lot of jams tonight," Ogea said. "There were guys all over the bases."
Neither starting pitcher was overpowering in Game 2. Brown needed a great throw by Johnson to snuff out the Indians' first-inning rally and got timely double plays in the second and fourth innings to keep the Indians' offense off balance. But enough ground balls found their way through the infield in the fifth for the Indians to score three runs.
Matt Williams started the rally with a looping single, but the game turned on a pair of ground balls to the left side by Alomar and Marquis Grissom (3-for-4) that passed barely out of the reach of Renteria at short. Grissom's single brought home a run and gave him at least one hit in each of his 14 career World Series appearances.
Ogea became the first Indians pitcher to have an offensive impact on the game, moving both runners up with a sacrifice bunt before Roberts hit a chopper over second base that brought home Alomar and Grissom.
"He laid down a very good bunt," said Hargrove. "The toughest time to bunt is when everybody knows you're going to do it. It was a great bunt, but I still would rather see the designated hitter come up and hit a home run."
Alomar delivered the crowning blow in the sixth, taking Brown into the second deck in left field for his first World Series home run and his fourth homer of the postseason.
No surprise there. Alomar has delivered a series of big hits to propel the Indians through the postseason.
His eighth-inning homer in Game 4 of the Division Series kept the club alive against New York and he delivered the game-winning hit in the devastating Game 4 victory over the Orioles in the ALCS.
"He has swung the bat well since spring training," Hargrove said. "When he started out hitting .360 or .370, I was wondering how pTC long he could keep it up. It got to the All-Star break and I was still wondering and now we're in the postseason and he's still doing it."
Cleveland Indians vs. Florida Marlins
(Best of seven; chs. 11, 4)
Series tied 1-1
Day ......... Result
Game 1 ...... Florida, 7-4
Last night .. Cleveland, 6-1
Day, Site ............ Time
Tomorrow at Clev. .... 8: 20
Wed. at Clev. ........ 8: 20
Thursday at Clev. .... 8: 20
Saturday at Florida .. 8*
Sunday at Florida .... 7: 35*
Potential World Series pitching matchups (regular-season stats first, followed by postseason stats):
Game 3, tomorrow, at Cleveland:
Fla.: Leiter (11-9, 4.34; 0-1, 5.84)
Cle.: Nagy (15-11, 4.28; 0-1, 4.32)
Game 4, Wednesday, at Cleveland:
Fla.: Saunders (4-6, 4.61; 0-0, 3.38)
Cle.: Wright (8-3, 4.38; 2-0, 6.28)
Game 5, Thursday, at Cleveland:
Fla.: Hernandez (9-3, 3.18; 3-0, 2.21)
Cle.: Hershiser (14-6, 4.47; 0-1, 4.77)
Game 6, Saturday, at Florida:
Fla.: Brown (16-8, 2.69; 2-1, 4.50)
Cle.: Ogea (8-9, 4.99; 1-2, 2.42)
Game 7, next Sunday, at Florida:
Fla.: Leiter. Cle.: Nagy
Pub Date: 10/20/97