Sing your hosannas to George Brett. Salute him as the newest Mr. October. And then ask yourself: why in the world would the Blue Jays allow him to be so heroic last night?

Perhaps they were pulling a Royal tease by letting Kansas City win a postseason game for the first time in 11 tries. Whatever, Manager Bobby Cox and his pitchers violated a sacred law of sport, the one that insists the other guy's best player should never beat you.

Or at least not without a fight. Somewhere, Dickie Noles is beside himself, at the sight of Brett going four for four, with two home runs, and leaving the field with the back of his uniform unsoiled.

Three times Brett came to the plate with first base unoccupied; three times the Blue Jays made the horrific mistake of giving him pitches he not only could see, but could hit.

The result: one home run, one near-home run and the single after which Brett scored the winning run in the 6-5 victory.

"There had been talk of pitching around me," Brett said after setting three important playoff records. "But they've come right at me. I didn't expect that."

Maybe the pitch of Dave Stieb's life gave the Blue Jays a sense of false bravado. Maybe that dandy breaking ball that caught Brett looking for a called third strike in Game 1, after a double and single, caused the rest of the staff to get cocky.

Doyle Alexander might have been swaggering after Brett went zero for four in Game 2, without so much as punching the ball out of the infield.

Still, great players play poorly only so often; Alexander discovered this in the bottom of the first.

First was vacant after Willie Wilson was caught stealing. Or at least by the only eyes that mattered, those of umpire Vic Voltaggio. Replays seemed to show Wilson's foot on the bag by the time the tag was applied to his knee.

Anyway, Alexander decided to take his chances with Brett -- and with a change-up.

"I was figuring on going up the middle with the pitch," Brett said. "But there was plenty of time to pull it once I saw what it was."

Second time up, Alexander thought he could slip a down-and-in slider past Brett.

"Don't think it was a strike," Alexander said.

What it struck was the right-field fence, a few feet from being another home run. Hal McRae and Frank White got Brett home with back-to-back flies to deep right.

Twice burned, you would think Cox and Alexander would avoid Brett at all costs in the sixth. Even with Wilson on first. There were none out, but nobody behind Brett inspires much fear.

In spring training once, Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson suggested walking Brett every at bat the entire season.

"Even with the bases loaded," Anderson joked.

Alexander insisted he offered Brett nothing a normal lefty might launch over the left-center-field fence.

"The ball was up and away," he said. "It got up in the wind and carried all the way. That's how it went all night."

Alexander seemed as upset with not fielding Wilson's slap past him into center field as Brett's blast.

"My fault," he said. "I should have had it. I don't know how I missed it."

Alexander had been stung hard by the several batters before Brett. So why was he still on the mound?

"Thought we might get him out sometime tonight," Cox said. "Besides, it still was 5-3 (Toronto) when Brett hit the homer."

Cox then watched McRae slip a double inside the bag at first before summoning his middle-relief ace, Dennis Lamp.

All Lamp did was get White to fly deep to right, McRae advancing to third, and Pat Sheridan on a comebacker to the mound and Steve Balboni on a strikeout.

"The worst ball (Brett) hit all night led to the winning run," Cox said, referring to that single between first and second in the eighth. Once again, first was uncluttered.

Later, the worst ball Balboni may hit in quite some time blooped into short center and Brett sped across the plate with the winning run.

For ever so long, the Royals have been regarded as a two-man offense. And Brett and Wilson accounted for six of their 10 hits and five of their six runs last night.

Brett was equally heroic afield, lunging to his right for Lloyd Moseby's slap down the line in the third and throwing Damaso Garcia out at the plate.

A wondrous hitter seemingly blessed in every manner possible should be treated as gingerly as possible. Put him somewhere harmless. Or at least back him off the plate a time or two.

Sages claimed the 1980 World Series turned the Phillies' way the moment Noles fired a fast ball dangerously close to Brett's chin.

"Do we have a chance?" a fan tonight asked former American League manager Hank Bauer, with the game tied, before the eighth.

"If George hits another one out," Bauer said.

The clear implication was that nobody else was about to do anything dramatic.

Ever so politely, reliever Jim Clancy gave Brett all the plate he wanted. Grateful, Brett slapped a 1-1 low ball for a single.

Challenging Brett on a tear is rather like the Redskins choosing to go at the big-play Cardinals with seven linebackers. Or the Bullets guarding Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Frank Johnson.

"Some nights, no matter what you do," Jesse Barfield said, "Brett's just going to beat you."

Some nights, some teams make it unusually easy.