10/02/2003 4:45 AM ET
Durazo comes up clutch
A's DH drives in three, including tying run in the ninth
OAKLAND -- The game was so meaningful, and his impact was so great, that Erubiel Durazo didn't even mind talking about it.
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Durazo put on a clinic in quality at-bats Wednesday night in the Oakland A's dramatic 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
"He was a stud," starting pitcher Tim Hudson said of Durazo.
Oakland's 28-year-old designated hitter reached base four times in six plate appearances.
"Without him we wouldn't have had the opportunity to win it," said Eric Chavez, who saved the game with his glove and scored the winning run. "The game would have been long gone without Durazo."
Durazo doubled in the first two runs, scored the third, singled home the tying run with two out in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings and led off the winning rally in the 12th with his second hard-fought walk of the night.
"The first game of a short series like this, it's real big," said Durazo, generally shy with the media. "Especially to win in extra innings like that, the team feels good and hopefully we will feel better tomorrow."
Durazo couldn't have felt better. He reached base twice against Boston starter Pedro Martinez, keying the three-run third inning with a two-run double to left-center.
"The last time I faced Pedro, I went 0-for-4 and struck out three times," said Durazo. "Today he threw me more pitches I could hit. The last time, he threw me everything. Fastballs, changeups, sliders. I struck out three times. Today I had the same approach. Nothing different."
In the seventh, the A's had Martinez on the ropes. Durazo concluded an 11-pitch at-bat with a two-out walk that loaded the bases. Although Martinez escaped by getting Chavez to foul out, the 33-pitch inning brought Martinez's game total to 130, and he was done.
"I don't think he can come back in three or four days," said Durazo. "If he comes back, he's one of the best horses in baseball."
In the ninth, with two out and two on, Durazo delivered as clutch a hit as he's ever had, greeting left-handed reliever Alan Embree with a single to left that tied the game.
"I had the same approach," said Durazo. "It's two outs, a tie game. I just wanted a pitch I could drive. I had success all night, you don't change anything at all."
His walk against Derek Lowe leading off the 12th set the stage for Ramon Hernandez's stunning two-out bunt that scored Chavez for the win. Chavez's grounder to second forced Durazo. Chavez took second on Miguel Tejada's grounder to third, then stole third as Scott Hatteberg walked when the Red Sox apparently lost track of him.
Hatteberg took second on what was scored defensive indifference with Terrence Long batting. But Boston then walked Long intentionally -- even though he was 1-for-14 against Lowe -- to load the bases and bring up Hernandez. The catcher followed instructions from the bench and dropped his bunt in front of third baseman Bill Mueller. With two outs, he was playing too deep to do anything with it. Game over.
Durazo came to the A's last winter from Arizona in the four-team trade that cost the A's right-handed pitcher Jason Arnold. In 2002, Durazo drove in nine runs in one game, but his time with the Diamondbacks was generally plagued by injuries, and he never appeared in more than 92 games in any of his four seasons there.
But he stayed healthy his first year in Oakland and stayed in the lineup, playing in 154 games, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 77 runs. He also walked 100 times, tied for third in the league.
In three previous Division Series, he was 1-for-12.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This article was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.