Mariners 6, Yankees 2

Monday, October 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) — Alex Rodriguez hasn't left the Seattle Mariners just yet, and they haven't finished with the New York Yankees, either.

The New York Yankees had surged ahead on Luis Sojo's two-run double, and it seemed like their path to a third straight World Series trip needed just five more innings.

Then ARod woke up the Mariners and sent this AL championship series back to the Bronx.

Rodriguez hit a go-ahead, two-run single off Jeff Nelson, and Edgar Martinez and John Olerud followed with consecutive homers, all in a six-pitch span. The Mariners' 6-2 win Sunday pulled them to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Tuesday night on the East Coast.

``We just want to get it to Game 7 and extend it, somehow, some way, and make it a little difficult on these New Yorkers,'' Rodriguez said.

He is eligible for free agency after the World Series and the 25-year-old shortstop is likely to become the sport's highest-paid player. The possibility that Sunday would be his final game in a Mariners uniform jolted him like a jug full of java.

``I think last night, for the first time, it hit me,'' he said. ``I had a hard time sleeping a little bit, because, you know, you might be facing the end, and you don't know really what the future holds for me. ... This could be, maybe, it.''

A four-time All-Star, Rodriguez sounded skittish about leaving the Emerald City.

``My mom,'' he said, ``has always told me, `Sometimes, it's not greener on the other side.'''

On the other side of the Safeco Field, the Yankees dressed and returned to New York with Orlando Hernandez ready to face John Halama in Game 6 Tuesday night and Andy Pettitte in reserve for a seventh game, if needed, the following day.

``I sure like our chances, basically because we have two of our best going,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``Hopefully, only one is enough.''

Rodriguez understood that he might have pushed off the end only by one game. Hernandez is 7-0 with a 1.22 ERA in postseason play.

How will Rodriguez prepare?

``Pray a lot, for one,'' he said.

In 1995, the Mariners lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium, then won three straight at the Kingdome to take their first-round series 3-2.

This time, they must win in New York.

``All of the pressure is on them,'' Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.

``We're in a no-lose situation,'' Olerud said. ``Down 3-1 against this ballclub, I don't think there's a whole lot of people that would give us a chance to be able to come back.''

And they won't have Freddy Garcia, who beat New York for the second time in six days, allowing seven hits in five innings. The Yankees, 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the opener, were just 2-for-15 Sunday with runners on second or third and stranded an ALCS record 15 in all.

``We had our chances and didn't get the job done. They had their chances to and got the hits,'' said Paul O'Neill, taken out for a pinch-hitter for the second time in five games.

Seattle, which scored five runs in the first four games of the series, got five runs in the fifth alone, the inning ignited by Mark McLemore's 40-foot bunt single up the third-base line.

And the Mariners didn't even take batting practice.

``We just got loose and played the game. We've had good results with that,'' Piniella said.

Denny Neagle, who lost to Garcia in the opener, then issued his fourth walk of the game, to Rickey Henderson.

Mike Cameron sacrificed and Torre brought in Nelson to face Rodriguez, deciding not to walk him and pitch to Martinez.

``It's depending on how you want to burn your hand,'' Torre said. ``Do you want to use dry ice or do you want to use fire?''

ARod lined Nelson's first pitch into left field.

Martinez, who hit a come-from-behind grand slam off Nelson on Aug. 29, followed by driving a 2-0 pitch about 10 rows deep into the center-field bleachers. And Olerud, robbed of a home run an inning earlier when Bernie Williams pulled a ball back over the center-field fence, put an 0-1 pitch into the right-field seats.

``It happened quick,'' said Nelson, who allowed just two homers during the regular season. ``I didn't make good pitches.''

New York loaded the bases in the seventh before Arthur Rhodes struck out Jorge Posada and threw a called third strike — for the second time in the series — past Glenallen Hill, who hit for O'Neill.

``Now,'' Edgar Martinez said, ``we have a little momentum.''

Note: Olerud ended Seattle's 14-inning scoreless streak with a sacrifice fly in the first after Neagle walked the bases loaded. ... After Sojo's double, which made him 4-for-4 against Garcia in the playoffs, Garcia retired Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, keeping it 2-1. ... The game took 4 hours, 14 minutes, an ALCS record, one minute more than the Baltimore Orioles and Yankees needed for Game 2 in 1996. ... Mariners 3B David Bell threw out Knoblauch from a sitting position in the sixth.