OAKLAND, OCT. 10 -- Oakland Athletics Manager Tony La Russa today declined to officially designate Dave Stewart as his starting pitcher for Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series. But he left little doubt as to what his choice ultimately will be.

"If I were a betting man," La Russa said, "you can count six days and it's about his turn."

And despite Bob Welch's 27-win regular season, La Russa's decision about whom to feature in this postseason is a difficult one to dispute. Stewart has become the most reliable high-stakes pitcher in the game.

He had two wins in Oakland's four-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, lowering his career playoff ERA to 1.79. He's 5-0 in six ALCS starts and has been the winning pitcher in the deciding game of each of the past three AL playoff series.

He surrendered two runs over 16 innings in this series to earn most valuable player honors, having a streak of 12 straight scoreless frames ended in today's ninth inning. He beat Roger Clemens twice to improve to 8-1 in their head-to-head encounters.

"I'm in my element in these types of games," Stewart said. "I get pumped up. I like to be in the spotlight and I like the chance for recognition. I don't always get that chance." Morgan on Powerhouses

Red Sox Manager Joe Morgan, when asked how the A's compare to the greatest teams he has seen, replied: "They're as good as we've had for a while. The Reds {of the mid-1970s} were dynamite, and I don't think I saw the '27 Yankees." . . .

A's third baseman Carney Lansford and his Red Sox counterpart, Wade Boggs, each tied a four-game ALCS record with seven hits. . . . Dennis Eckersley did not appear in an Oakland playoff win for the first time in three years. . . .

The A's are the 21st team in major league history to win three straight pennants. Their six championship series wins are an AL high. They have the only two four-game sweeps in ALCS history, both over the Red Sox.