OAKLAND, OCT. 19 -- The Cincinnati Reds bashed and dashed their way to a stylishly imposing victory tonight with the best imitation of the Oakland Athletics that this World Series has had to offer. Just who is the dynasty-to-be around here, anyway?
The Reds continued to bully the stunned A's on this crisp, breezy evening at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, getting two home runs from Chris Sabo and a seven-run third inning to cruise to an 8-3 victory in Game 3 before 48,269. One more victory and the Reds will have their first World Series championship in 14 years.
It was just four days ago that the A's were talking about a place in history while the Reds just begged to be noticed.
Now, however, Cincinnati has a three-games-to-none lead and can complete a sweep with a victory in Saturday's Game 4 here, when Jose Rijo will oppose A's ace Dave Stewart.
"It was another case of one team doing what it has to do to win, and that's what Cincinnati has done," A's Manager Tony La Russa said. "They're roughing us up. We've been on the other side, and it doesn't feel great from this side. I'd rather be over there."
The Reds offered another display of power, speed and pitching tonight. They had eight runs and 12 hits by the fourth inning, sending Oakland starter Mike Moore to the showers after 2 2/3 innings.
The A's finally got Billy Hatcher out, but it did them little good. Sabo hit long homers in each of his first two at-bats, and Oakland first baseman Mark McGwire's error on Paul O'Neill's ground ball fueled the third inning onslaught.
Hatcher, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Todd Benzinger and Joe Oliver joined Sabo in the two-hit club; eight Reds had hits, seven scored and six had RBI. Cincinnati starter Tom Browning worked six mostly effective innings, then Rob Dibble and Randy Myers finished up.
"We're just outplaying them, and we won't let up," Larkin said. "They're not losing it, we're winning it. They're not used to having people come right at them aggressively. . . . It's surprising to be up 3-0 because they're a great team, but the fact that we're on our way to winning this Series doesn't surprise me."
The fall of the A's has not been pretty. They've bickered at times, whined and lost. Jose Canseco, the object of some post-Game 2 disparagements from teammates, was booed tonight almost as mercilessly as Moore. Canseco's zero-for-four night left him one for 11 in the Series.
The A's had seven hits, getting home runs from Harold Baines and Rickey Henderson. No team ever has recovered from an 0-3 deficit in the World Series, and only three of the 17 clubs to be in such a position won even one game; none ever extended the Series beyond five games.
Oakland's postgame clubhouse was somber and testy. "It's not finger-pointing time," Stewart said. "No one in this room has done their job in this series. . . . We're not ready to pack it in yet, but there's a long hill to be climbed."
The A's had come into this showdown insisting that their five-game loss to the seemingly overmatched Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 would not be repeated, that the only way to be remembered as a club for the ages was to win this Series.
"No one remembers you for winning one World Series in three years," outfielder Dave Henderson said. "We're well on our way to not being remembered."
Cincinnati made good tonight on its only clear advantage in the starting pitching matchups. Moore entered the game 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in postseason play. But the Moore of 1990 is not the lively armed fireballer of 1989; his fastball has lost much of its pop, his curveball its knee-buckling bend.
Moore was 13-15 with a 4.65 ERA during the regular season, including a 5.83 mark over his last 10 outings. And he was hammered quickly tonight after leaving several breaking pitches high in the strike zone and several fastballs in the middle of the plate.
"I didn't get away with any mistakes," he said. "I had pretty good stuff, pretty good velocity, but terrible location. And the Reds made me pay the price."
Browning, meanwhile, was 7-1 on the road and is a fly ball pitcher -- supposedly a bonus in this park. The birth of his son shortly after Game 2 provided another good omen.
"I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark today," said Browning, who rode a subway here this afternoon. "I knew good things were going to happen. . . . I started out a little nervous, but I settled down after we got the lead. This was the perfect ending to a pretty good two or three days."
It was evident that Moore was in for a short, pitiable evening. Each of the first seven Reds connected sharply, although he escaped a three-hit first inning unscathed with the help of a double-play grounder off the bat of Hatcher -- who was retired for the first time in the series.
Moore was not as fortunate in the second, when Sabo hit a 3-2 fastball into the left field seats for a 1-0 lead. Oakland rebounded quickly, getting Dave Henderson's double and Baines's home run to take a 2-1 lead in the second.
Larkin started the Reds' third by fouling out to catcher Terry Steinbach before madness began. Eight of the next nine batters reached base -- with four singles, a double, a triple, a home run and McGwire's error that left six of the seven runs in the inning unearned.
Hatcher yanked a single to left, then O'Neill bounced a shot off McGwire's glove and into right field. Davis's single up the middle scored Hatcher, and Hal Morris's grounder to McGwire provided a 3-2 lead.
Moore then left a 2-0 fastball to Sabo waist high and over the plate, enabling Sabe to become the sixth player in World Series history to homer in consecutive innings. The liner cleared the left field wall to make it 5-2.
"I'm a good mistake hitter," said Sabo, who also set a World Series record for third basemen by handling 10 chances flawlessly. "If you put a pitch in a bad spot, I'm usually going to hit it pretty good."
Benzinger finished Moore with a single to center, and Game 2 hero Oliver greeted reliever Scott Sanderson with an RBI double into the left field corner.
Mariano Duncan produced an RBI single, then Larkin hit a drive into the left-center alley that he hustled into a triple for an 8-2 lead. Sanderson finally ended the ordeal by getting Hatcher to ground to McGwire.
Browning showed some rust from his extended stay on the bench by serving up Rickey Henderson's homer to start the third, but he retired the next eight hitters before walking Rickey Henderson with two outs in the fifth. That quickly led to a stolen base and a throwing error by catcher Oliver. But after walking Carney Lansford, Browning got Canseco on a rally-squelching flyout to right, and "Nasty Boys" time was nearing.