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MOYER'S PITCHING GAVE MARINERS A CHANCE TO CATCH UP

The avalanche of run support he received made it easy to forget that Jamie Moyer pitched another brilliant game Saturday for the Seattle Mariners.

The 38-year-old left-hander allowed just four hits over seven innings in Seattle's 14-3 cakewalk in Yankee Stadium. That made Moyer 3-0 with a 1.89 earned run average in the 2001 postseason.

"He gave us seven great innings of baseball," said manager Lou Piniella. "He's been pitching that way the whole second half of the season. It's been fun to watch the way he changes speeds and pitches to both sides of the plate. He makes the other team put the ball in play."

Moyer had to hold the line after giving up Bernie Williams' two-run homer in the first because his offense was shut out over the first four innings. He did just that, retiring 13 in a row after the home run. Seattle responded with a two-run fifth and its decisive seven-run sixth.

"I have seen us score a lot of runs and really felt strongly that we were going to do something," Moyer said. "It was just a matter of putting a couple of hits together. El Duque (Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez) had been throwing the ball very well up until that point, and it probably was not that he threw the ball poorly. It was just we were able to get some hits and things fell our way."
The Yankees are hopeful Roger Clemens' balky hamstring will allow him to be close to full strength tonight when he pitches in Game Four (7:30, Ch. 29, Radio 1520).

"My leg is feeling better," said Clemens, who didn't get out of the fifth inning in either of his division series starts against Oakland. "Some of the swelling is going down behind my knee. I guess we are just trying to move some of the fluid around. But you know, you're just never going to feel terrific. Your adrenalin and the excitement of being here is going to take over, so I don't expect it to be a problem."

Seattle will counter with Paul Abbott, a 17-game winner during the regular season. Abbott hasn't pitched since getting shelled for eight runs in a relief role in a 17-2 loss Oct. 13 at Cleveland.
The Yankees' clubhouse was largely empty after the game, with few players around to address reporters. Those that remained were philosophical about the blowout.

"We got crushed, but I'd rather have that happen than lose on a hit in the ninth," said DH David Justice.

"It was an ugly game," added reliever Mike Stanton. "Ugly, ugly, ugly. But it's just one loss."

But it was a key one. A 3-0 series lead never has been blown in baseball history, so the Yankees clearly let a huge chance slip away.

"No question," said manager Joe Torre. "We get a lead, we feel we put the pressue on, which is what momentum is all about. We were not able to hold on."
The loss was just Hernandez's second in 11 postseason decisions. The other came in Game Three of last year's World Series against the Mets, when he gave up an eighth-inning single to Benny Agbayani that snapped a 2-2 tie in a 4-2 defeat. . . . A ninth-inning pinch home run by Seattle's Jay Buhner was just the second ball ever to reach Yankee Stadium's unoccupied black batter's eye in center field in a postseason game. The other? Reggie Jackson famed third homer in Game Six of the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers. . . . Jackson, a special assistant to owner George Steinbrenner, joined fellow Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto in throwing out ceremonial first pitches. Rizzuto did his with a back-handed flip, mimicking Derek Jeter's sensational play that nailed Jeremy Giambi at home in Game Three of the division series at Oakland. . . . Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 3 with two walks and has hit safely in all eight postseason games. His 15 postseason hits are are seven shy of Derek Jeter's rookie record of 22 set in 1996. . . . The Yankees lost Saturday despite scoring first, a rarity in the Torre era. Since 1996, New York is 37-6 in postseason games when it opens the scoring.
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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