Agbayani's double puts down Hernandez, Yanks

Wednesday, October 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Mets' Benny Agbayani connects for an RBI double in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series. Photo by Associated Press.

By Evan Grant / The Dallas Morning News

NEW YORK – The New York Yankees stuck with the postseason's indomitable Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez on Tuesday night.

Because of it, the New York Mets will stick around at least a while longer in the Subway World Series.

The Mets managed to push across a pair of eighth-inning runs against Hernandez to win, 4-2, in Game 3 at Shea Stadium in front of 55,299 fans, who were so loud they drowned out the noise from next-door-neighbor LaGuardia Airport. The Yankees lead the best-of-7 series two games to one.

The Mets handed Hernandez his first postseason loss in 11 starts. Hernandez, who had battled flu-like symptoms, was at his sharpest until he went out for the eighth after a discussion with manager Joe Torre.

Hernandez struck out Robin Ventura for the inning's first out, but it quickly got away from him. Todd Zeile singled. On a 1-and-0 pitch, Benny Agbayani, the Hawaii native who was hitless in his first two at-bats against Hernandez, doubled to the gap in left center. It took the Yankees outfielders so long to get to the ball that the slow-footed Zeile was able to score without a throw. After Hernandez allowed an infield single to Jay Payton, he was removed. He had thrown 134 pitches.

The Mets added to their lead on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell. It was enough to get the Mets their first World Series win. They try to even the series on Wednesday in Game 4.

The Mets struck first against Hernandez. After Hernandez struck out the side in the first, Robin Ventura lined the first pitch of the second inning over the wall in right center to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

It didn't last long. Hernandez responded by striking out the next three hitters, then the Yankees' offense went to work. In the top of the third, the Yankees fashioned a two-out rally to tie the score. Hernandez struck out to start the inning, and Jose Vizcaino bounced to short.

Derek Jeter kept the inning alive, though, with a single. David Justice, the Yankees' top postseason run producer, doubled just inside the first-base line. Jeter slid under a high relay throw from second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, who double-pumped before throwing home.

In the fourth, the Yankees took the lead, but could have had more. Tino Martinez led off with a single. After Jorge Posada struck out for the second consecutive time, the suddenly hot Paul O'Neill scorched a ball into the gap in right center. Martinez scored easily; O'Neill wound up at third.

"It's like he's in the laboratory mixing this with a little of this," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He comes up with a different swing every at-bat that he needs to have against a certain pitcher. He obviously isn't as comfortable as he's been."

Rick Reed hit Scott Brosius to put runners on first and third with one out. After Hernandez bunted Brosius to second, though, Game 1 hero Jose Vizcaino struck out.

Failing to further capitalize on that opportunity cost the Yankees the lead two innings later. Hernandez lost it before ever getting an out. Mike Piazza lined a double past third base to start the inning. Ventura walked after Hernandez got ahead of him 0-and-2. Then, on an 0-and-1 pitch, Todd Zeile doubled into the left-field corner to tie the game. After Agbayani worked another walk out of Hernandez, the Mets had the bases loaded and nobody out.

Hernandez found his resolve. He made Jay Payton his 10th strikeout victim of the game. He made Mike Bordick No. 11. Then he got out of the jam by getting Darryl Hamilton to bounce into a fielder's choice.

A day earlier, there had been some concern about how long Hernandez would last. He had been suffering from flu-like symptoms. When he arrived at Shea Stadium, however, he reported no problems.

By Tuesday night, Hernandez had a new bug: The Mets.