Rookie pitches Seattle to victory

The Associated Press

SEATTLE All the Seattle Mariners asked Bob Wolcott to give them was a few good innings. Instead, the 22-year-old rookie gave them a game to remember forever.

Wolcott, pitching because the Mariners had no one else, pulled one of baseball's greatest escapes, wriggling free from a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the first inning and beating the Cleveland Indians 3-2 last night in their AL playoff opener.

''It was definitely nerve-wracking,'' Wolcott said. ''It's a tremendous relief. Anything could have happened. We could've gotten blown out.''

''We used so much of our pitching staff in the other series, I just wanted to give them a rest,'' he said. ''I have to admit, I had my doubts in the first inning. But it all worked out.''

Showing poise that belied his baby face, Wolcott added to the postseason roster Monday and making only his eighth major-league appearance spent the whole evening putting himself in trouble and then getting out. The only sign of stress was the sweat creeping out farther and farther on the bill of his cap.

''It was hard work out there,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Luis Sojo's tiebreaking double off Dennis Martinez in the seventh inning whipped the Kingdome crowd of 57,065 further into a frenzy, and stopped the Indians' march through the postseason.

Cleveland, coming off a three-game sweep of Boston in the opening round, will try to get even in the best-of-7 series tonight night when Orel Hershiser starts Game 2 against Tim Belcher.

At the outset, it looked as if the Indians might run away with this game. Wolcott, who began the season at Double-A Port City, walked the bases loaded by throwing balls on 12 of his first 13 pitches to Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Carlos Baerga.

In fact, his first six pitches were balls, prompting a visit from manager Lou Piniella.

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