The Associated Press
SEATTLE Ÿ Orel Hershiser would have none of it.
Not the Kingdome noise, not the fireworks set off after Ken Griffey Jr.'s home run, not the momentum the Seattle Mariners were starting to build. None of it was going to stop him from winning a game the Cleveland Indians absolutely had to have.
Hershiser maintained his perfect career record in the postseason, and Manny Ramirez homered twice and went 4-for-4, leading the Indians past Seattle 5-2 last night and tying the AL playoffs at 1 game apiece.
''We looked at this as sort of a must win for us,'' Hershiser said.
Showing the form that once made him baseball's best pitcher, the 37-year-old Hershiser allowed four hits in eight innings and improved to 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 10 playoff and World Series games. His only blemish came in the sixth inning when Griffey tied a postseason record with his sixth home run.
''Of all the people I've been around in baseball, and I've been around this game 20-25 years, he may be able to focus and concentrate more consistently than anyone I've been around,'' Indians manager Mike Hargrove said of Hershiser, still icing his arm about a half-hour after the game.
''He's come up big for us twice in this postseason,'' he said. ''I don't know if you come to expect it, because we're all human. I think you anticipate it a lot.''
While Ramirez showed what made him an All-Star at age 23, Carlos Baerga came through with the big hit Cleveland missed in the opener. His two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded broke a scoreless tie in the fifth and got everyone off the Indians' bench, and the team seemed to relax after that.
The best-of-7 series goes back to Jacobs Field for Game 3 tomorrow night. Mariners ace Randy Johnson, finally able to get some time off this week, starts on four days' rest, opposed by Charles Nagy.
Seattle is 28-3 this season in games Johnson starts. The Mariners also won the last time he pitched Ÿ in relief in Game 5 of the first-round playoffs against New York.
The Indians did not want to go home with two losses, and thanks to Hershiser, they did not. Not even a crowd of 58,144, the second-largest ever to see baseball at the Kingdome, could shake ol' Orel.
''The prospect of going down 0-2 and facing Randy Johnson is not one that causes your appetite to stay with you very long,'' Hargrove said.
''Tonight, as far as we were concerned, we had to win this game. I can't emphasize that enough. We had to have this game,'' he said. ''If this was a test of our character, we passed.''
Hershiser, who blanked Boston for 7 1-3 innings in the first round of the playoffs, struck out seven and his lone walk was intentional. Jose Mesa pitched the ninth, allowing Jay Buhner's second home run of the postseason.
Standing still on the mound, Hershiser merely focused in on catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., who would occasionally pat his chest protector as if to say, ''Just you and me.''
''The whole key in playoff baseball is to stay with your patterns, stay with your pitches,'' Hershiser said. ''Don't let the crowd take your adrenaline away from you.''
Even after giving up a home run, Hershiser already had a new ball back in his mitt and was at the rubber, almost ready to pitch, by the time Griffey touched home plate. None of Hershiser's teammates had to come console, either, because they knew he'd been around big games before.
''Hershiser has been in a lot of these games,'' Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. ''He's got the confidence to pitch well, and he did.''
Griffey became the first AL player to homer six times in the postseason. Lenny Dykstra did it for Philadelphia in 1993 and Bob Robertson did it for Pittsburgh in 1971.
Hershiser was the MVP of the 1988 World Series, pitching Los Angeles to the championship. He went 3-0 in the postseason that year, as did another pitcher in the Dodgers' rotation that October, Tim Belcher.
Belcher took the loss for the Mariners. Hit hard in two relief appearances in the opening round of the playoffs Ÿ he took out his frustration by knocking a television camera out of its operator's hands Ÿ he lasted 5 2-3 innings.
Belcher left after Ramirez homered with two outs in the sixth, Paul Sorrento singled and Sandy Alomar tripled for a 4-1 lead. Ramirez, who began the game 1-for-16 in the postseason, homered leading off the eighth against Bobby Ayala.
For the first few innings, it seemed like fate may've been on the Mariners' side.
Griffey made a sliding catch to rob Eddie Murray of extra bases and second baseman Joey Cora made a diving catch on Kenny Lofton's liner. In Tuesday night's opener, it was Cora who grabbed Jim Thome's hard grounder to finish off rookie pitcher Bob Wolcott's escape from a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first inning.
The fans, as always, did all they could to rally the Mariners. They stood everytime a Seattle pitcher got two strikes on a batter and cheered every hard-hit ball by the Mariners, but saw their team lose for just the fourth time in its last 24 games.
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