10/02/2003 5:00 AM ET
Chavez, Hudson play key roles
Chavez robs Kapler of an RBI in the 12th: 56K | 300K
OAKLAND -- Eric Chavez went 0-for-6 and Tim Hudson received no decision, but both loomed large in the A's thrilling Game 1 victory.
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Oakland A's third baseman saved Game 1 of the American League Division Series with his Gold Glove in the top of the 12th inning, then scored the winning run in the bottom of the frame for a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
"That's the best game I've ever been involved in," said Chavez. "It's just huge. Now we need to give them two big blows. We need to win tomorrow, back to back. Winning Game 1 is so big, and it didn't look good for a while, but we kept battling back. We were not going to lose this game."
But they almost did, several times. They trailed with two out in the bottom of the ninth when Erubiel Durazo tied the game with a clutch single. Then with two out and runners on first and second in the top of the 12th, Gabe Kapler hit a bullet heading toward the left-field corner.
But Chavez, a two-time Gold Glove winner playing deep behind the bag, scrambled to his backhand on his hands and knees, somehow picked the one-hopper cleanly, then dived glove-first onto the bag just before Manny Ramirez arrived from second, and the inning was over.
"I was playing so deep that my first instinct was not to throw it across the field," said Chavez. "I got up and knew I could get to third. And even if he was safe, the ball was still in the infield."
Chavez batted second in the bottom of the 12th, following Durazo's walk with a fielder's choice grounder. He also put pressure on Boston's strategists by stealing third during Scott Hatteberg's two-out walk, leading to an intentional walk of Terrence Long and the game-winning bunt from Ramon Hernandez.
"I had the green light the whole time," said Chavez. "I wanted to go earlier, but couldn't pick a time to go, and finally I just went."
Nearly forgotten was the determined start by Tim Hudson. He beat Boston with a two-hit shutout earlier this year, but this game was a struggle. Hudson allowed three earned runs on 10 hits -- two homers -- over 6 2/3 innings.
But he escaped most of the jams he created, and he pitched the final two innings with a cramp in his forearm that he insists will not interfere with his next start.
"My stamina is not what it used to be," said Hudson. "They got some fluids in me later in the game and I felt better. I could have pitched the 11th and 12th innings."
Hudson said he was satisfied knowing he had kept his team close enough to win late.
"We try to win any way we can," he said. "You can't say enough about the guts of this team. We came up with the big play. That's the sign of a championship team."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This article was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.