BOSTON, OCT. 6 -- Once more it happened. Oakland's Dave Stewart came out the winner again tonight in a matchup with Boston's Roger Clemens. Once more fate seemed to turn against the Red Sox at the worst time. Clemens, troubled by a sore shoulder late this season, could pitch no more than six innings, forced out while leading.
The A's, behind Stewart, with Dennis Eckersley pitching the ninth inning, rallied from a 1-0 deficit to crush the Red Sox, 9-1, in the opening game of the American League Championship Series. The A's scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings and piled on seven in the ninth.
It was a big victory because it got the A's past Clemens and, with 27-game winner Bob Welch pitching Game 2, they could look optimistically toward the possibility of taking a 2-0 lead back to Oakland.
During the agony of the ninth inning, the Fenway Park crowd of 35,192 was as hushed as a golf gallery.
"A beautiful game turned into a horrible evening, didn't it, at least for the locals?" said Red Sox Manager Joe Morgan.
This was the fifth time this season Stewart, who yielded four hits, has beaten the Red Sox. Clemens showed the effects of pitching only once since Sept. 4.
Morgan said it was his decision to pull Clemens. "He was dead," Morgan said. "He probably couldn't have gotten out of the seventh. So I had to make the move."
Morgan said even Clemens "knew it was time."
A's Manager Tony La Russa called Clemens "courageous" for lasting as long as he did.
Stewart noted: "I think a healthy Roger Clemens could have taken this game a bit further, and maybe even won it."
Morgan said that Clemens's shoulder was "excellent before, during and after" his work. But that he was unsure if Clemens would work Game 4.
Clemens (21-6 this season) and Stewart (22-11) made a dream matchup that lived up to its notices -- as far as it went. Clemens, who had a sore shoulder late this season, left after pitching four-hit ball. He left with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Wade Boggs's fourth-inning home run, the Red Sox' first hit of the game.
Boggs's homer came on a 1-0 pitch with one out. With Clemens still looking strong, Bostonians thought the lead might stand up. Boggs stepped from the dugout to acknowledge the cheers.
But in the fifth, Clemens allowed two baserunners for the second straight inning. Once again, he escaped -- but the A's were making him work. Terry Steinbach opened with a single and, with two out, moved to third on Mike Gallego's single to right. But Rickey Henderson's fly to right ended the threat.
Tom Brunansky singled softly over second baseman Gallego with one out in the fifth. But Stewart got Tony Pena to hit into a double play. For five innings, Stewart threw 60 pitches, Clemens 79.
Clemens showed he was tired in the sixth. He walked Willie McGee on four pitches to open the inning. He threw ball one to Jose Canseco, followed by a wild pitch that moved McGee to second and brought silence to Fenway and a visit from pitching coach Bill Fischer. Clemens then walked Canseco on a 3-2 pitch.
Harold Baines lined to second baseman Jody Reed, who flipped to Luis Rivera to double off McGee. The crowd rose, urging on Clemens. But Carney Lansford scratched out a hit. Then Clemens got Terry Steinbach on a fly ball to center to retire the side. That would do it for Clemens, 97 pitches deemed enough.
Reliever Larry Andersen opened the seventh by walking Mark McGwire. After Weiss hit into a force play, Jamie Quirk (.281, but .353 as a pinch hitter) batted for Gallego and singled Weiss to third. Willie Randolph ran for Quirk. On a 3-2 pitch, Henderson flied to medium center. Ellis Burks's throw home was slightly up the third-base line. The ball just reached Pena's glove when Weiss arrived, knocking the glove off Pena's hand as the ball fell free and Weiss scored. Randolph moved up to second, but McGee flied to left to end the inning.
Stewart looked as strong in the seventh as he looked in the first, retiring Boston in order. The place turned quiet, sensing doom.
Stewart had oustanding speed and put the ball just where he wanted. Occasionally, he'd mix in forkballs and sliders, keeping the Red Sox off balance.
"I felt great," he said. "I had good command of my pitches. I felt good tonight. I read today in the paper that they seemed to place more emphasis on winning the first game. If they won it, they'd have a good chance to win the series; if they lost, they'd have a slim chance. So I just went out to do my job."
Canseco singled to open the eighth. Morgan called in left-hander Tom Bolton, but Harold Baines moved Canseco up with a sacrifice anyway. Morgan then called in right-hander Jeff Gray. With Lansford at bat, Canseco stole third. Lansford then drove in Canseco for the go-ahead run with a single to right -- the run being the second charged to Andersen.
Steinbach singled, Lansford stopping at second. Gray got McGwire on a fly ball to left but walked Weiss to load the bases. Gray escaped when Reed cut off Randolph's bouncer behind second base and flipped to Rivera for the force.
The A's piled on the misery in the ninth. Henderson opened with a single. McGee sacrificed and was safe when Gray bobbled the bunt. With Canseco at bat, Henderson stole third. Then McGee stole second. When the Red Sox called on Dennis Lamp, Canseco flied to center, scoring Henderson with McGee taking third. Baines was walked intentionally. Lansford doubled, scoring McGee. Steinbach singled home Lance Blankenship, running for Baines. Lamp departed to a chorus of boos from the departing crowd after walking McGwire, Lansford scoring on a passed ball by Pena.
Left-hander Rob Gardner walked Weiss to load the bases. Randolph singled in Steinbach. Henderson drove in two more runs with a single, but Randolph was thrown out at third as Henderson took second. McGee flied to right to mock cheers as the inning ended and still more of the Boston faithful found their way to the exits.
The seven-run inning tied an ALCS record for runs in an inning -- previously accomplished by Baltimore on consecutive days in 1970, and the Yankees in 1981. The onslaught made for a long Boston nightmare. "What time is it anyway -- 3:30?" quipped Morgan.