CINCINNATI, OCT. 16 -- His back ached, his right hand ached and his ears ached from the booing he heard from his own fans during the National League playoffs. His manager considered moving him from cleanup to leadoff because he wasn't swinging the bat with the power the team's become accustomed to.

But in a game the Oakland Athletics were supposed to win easily, Eric Davis made it look easy in the Cincinnati Reds' 7-0 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

With two swings -- a two-run homer in the first and a run-scoring single in the fifth -- Davis drove in three runs, one more than he had in six NL playoff games against Pittsburgh. He also became the 22nd player in World Series history to homer in his first at-bat, and he did it on the first pitch.

"We call him the Big E," as in the Big Easy, Reds Manager Lou Piniella said. "I talked to Eric over the weekend and told him to sleep on it {batting first}, but he told me he'd rather keep batting fourth. When he's swinging the bat well, he can drive in a lot of runs in a hurry."

Davis sent the A's -- and Piniella -- a message, according to teammate Billy Hatcher.

"It's hard for Eric right now. He's hurt and he's not producing," Hatcher said. "It was hard for him because he wasn't doing the job. I think Lou made him a little upset by saying he wanted to bat him leadoff and Eric wanted to bat fourth. So when he hit that home run, he was telling Lou: 'Hey, I want to bat fourth.' "

Davis looked like the player the Reds are paying $3 million a year, not the one who labored through a good-but-not-great season that once saw him refuse a curtain call because he was unhappy with the Reds' fans.

"It didn't bother me at all to be switched {to leadoff}, but I've spent the last five years batting fourth and I didn't want to change right before my first World Series," Davis said. "The biggest part of my career is driving in runs."

He did just that. As the neon-green-and-Red 'E' banner in Riverfront Stadium's left field stands said, give 'E' an 'A' for effort for his sliding near-catch on Rickey Henderson's third-inning double. Or perhaps give him an 'E' for 'enormous,' as in the impact his first-inning, two-run homer had on a team some said wouldn't last beyond four games.

"As Eric Davis goes, we go," reliever Rob Dibble said. "When he's hitting, it makes everybody's job a little easier. He drove in three runs and scored two runs, and that's five of our runs. That's Eric Davis."

"It's not a matter of me lifting the team, but when I swing the bat well, it takes pressure off the other guys and they relax," Davis said. "It's easier to hit when you have the lead."

And, thanks mostly to Davis, the Reds have a 1-0 lead.