They wound up in a euphoric, gray-clad pile of hugs and tears in the middle of Turner Field. What 38-year-old Randy Johnson began, 22-year-old closer Byung-Hyun Kim finished with two scoreless innings against October's orphan, the Atlanta Braves.
And the four-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks had won their first National League pennant.
With a 3-2 victory in the NLCS Game Five, the Diamondbacks -- under rookie manager Bob Brenly -- will host Arizona's first World Series game Saturday against the Yankees or Mariners.
Johnson's seven innings earned him a second win in this series, and Kim ended it by getting Julio Franco to fly out to center fielder Steve Finley with the tying run at first base.
Craig Counsell (8-for-21, .381, 4 RBI) is the MVP of this National League Championship Series.
After a career spent with the Chicago Cubs, pennant-less since 1945, Mark Grace is going to the World Series.
And his understudy at first base helped to get him there.
With Grace unable to continue due to a tight hamstring, pinch-hitter Erubiel Durazo had the game's biggest hit: a tie-breaking, two-run pinch-hit homer to the opposite field off Tom Glavine.
"Call me Wally Pip, call me what you will," said Grace, his entire body soaked in beer. "I'm going to the World Series."
Durazo's shot broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth, giving Arizona a 3-1 lead.
Naturally, the runs were unearned. The Braves had kicked the ball around and thrown it away in key moments throughout the NLCS, and Sunday was no different. Second baseman Marcus Giles booted Counsell's grounder for the Braves' seventh error of the the series to lead off the fifth.
With two out, Durazo -- who was just 0-for-2 in the entire postseason and 0-for-1 in the NLCS -- lined a 2-and-2 fastball just inside the left field foul pole for a homer that silenced Turner Field.
Amazingly, six of Durazo's 12 home runs this year have come with him batting as a pinch hitter.
"It was more of a case of putting in a guy that we felt more comfortable with on defense," said Brenly, who could have used Greg Colbrunn.
Brenly's other decision was whether to stay with Johnson during a hyper-tense seventh inning, when the Braves came within 90 feet of tying the game.
"I refuse to take any credit," said Brenly, who became the rookie first manager since Kansas City's Jim Frey in 1980 to lead his team to the World Series. "The players have done it all by themselves and put their egos on the back burner. I just sat back and watched."
To get to his first World Series, Johnson navigated out of serious trouble by striking out Brian Jordan with the bases loaded.
From the Diamondbacks dugout, fellow ace Curt Schilling -- who has three straight, complete-game playoff wins -- watched in awe.
"That was the gutsiest pitching effort I ever saw," Schilling said.
With two out, Johnson walked Giles on a 3-and-2 pitch to put runners on first and second for Franco.
The 41-year-old Franco had homered in the fourth. This time, he laced an RBI single to center, cutting Arizona's lead to 3-2.
Next, Chipper Jones outlasted Johnson to draw a full-count walk, loading the bases for Jordan. There were only 35,652 fans at Turner Field -- Atlanta's smallest postseason crowd ever -- but the entire house was standing and furiously chopping foam tomahawks toward the Big Unit.
Jordan helped Johnson by swinging and missing at a way-outside fastball before striking out on a 2-and-2 slider.
As much as Brenly had defended his suspect setup men, the seventh inning belonged to Johnson alone.
"Had I not taken my time and regrouped a bit, maybe something bad could have happened," Johnson said.
"I've often wondered what teams like the Yankees do to get to the World Series," Johnson added. "We're here because so many people contributed."
Now, forget the Yankees.
"I'm pulling for Seattle," said Johnson, who had his best years with the Mariners. "If the Yankees should win, we are going to be the underdogs."
Grace had been an underdog his entire career.
Grace had singled and scored the Diamondbacks' first run of the game. He had also picked two difficult balls out of the dirt for outs at first base, saving his infielders from potential throwing errors.
But Grace was forced to watch from the dugout after the fourth inning. He felt his hamstring tighten as he scored from second base.
"Taking myself out of that game," Grace said, "was the most heartbreaking decision I've had to make in my whole career."
Franco hit a game-tying solo homer to lead off the fourth, breaking Johnson's 17-inning scoreless streak this postseason.
Glavine had thrown 103 pitches in his 8-1 victory over Arizona in Game Two. But it was clear from the start Sunday night that he would not be around for long.
In his five innings Sunday, Glavine threw 98 pitches. He was charged with one earned run on five hits and three walks.
"I thought he pitched tremendous baseball," said Braves manager Bobby Cox.