PITTSBURGH, NOV. 14 -- Doug Drabek, who pitched the Pittsburgh Pirates to the National League East title, came within one vote of unanimous selection as the National League Cy Young Award winner.

Drabek led the league with 22 victories, against six losses, leading his team to its first division championship since 1979. And he is Pittsburgh's first Cy Young winner since Vernon Law in 1960.

He received 23 of 24 first-place votes and 118 of a possible 120 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America announced tonight.

Ramon Martinez (20-6), the Los Angeles Dodgers' 22-year-old fastballer, was second with one first-place vote and 70 points. Frank Viola of the New York Mets was third with two second-place votes and 13 thirds for 19 points.

Ballots were cast by two writers in each NL city.

It was Drabek's ability to win big games in a pressure-cooker pennant race that kept the New York Mets from overtaking the Pirates. Pittsburgh lacked the bullpen stopper most contenders have, but Manager Jim Leyland contended along the way it didn't matter "because we've got Cy Young {Drabek} on our staff. He's our stopper."

Drabek, who never won more than 15 games before this season, said he was never worried he would win -- or not win -- the Cy Young.

"Because of the pennant race and the playoffs, I never allowed myself to even think about this," he said. "All of that individual stuff was pushed aside. I didn't think about it, even after the season. I was just wishing we were in the World Series."

Drabek was 1-1 in the Pirates' six-game NL playoff loss to Cincinnati, on a 1.65 ERA.

He was 12-3 in games he started after a Pirates' loss. He won 19 of his last 22 decisions, had a 2.76 earned run average and was second in the league with nine complete games, including two shutouts.

"I've had two Cy Young Award winners and six or seven 20-game winners, but I've never had anyone pitch as consistently in big games as Drabek," pitching coach Ray Miller said.

"He's the best pitcher in the league -- no doubt, no question about it," Leyland said. "There was nobody better in a big game."

The first Pirate to lead the league in victories in 32 years, Drabek was almost unbeatable down the stretch. He was 5-0 in July, 4-1 in August and 5-1 in September and was the NL's pitcher of the month in both July and August -- the first pitcher since 1977 to win consecutive awards.

Drabek has four pitches he can throw for strikes, but said he became a big winner by keeping his control -- on and off the mound.

"When I'd have a bad inning, I'd go in the dugout and worry about it and think about it," he said. "Ray Miller kept telling me how much that took out of me. I kept working on it and working on it, to put it behind me and think about the next inning."

Drabek is quiet, low-key and contemplative off the field, but Miller said he became a big winner by tempering his temper.

"He wouldn't get a bunt down or something and he'd let it affect his pitching for two innings," Miller said.

"He was working too hard to let something like that get to him. He's the hardest worker on his staff. He can go out and throw a one-hitter, and the next day he's in here running, riding the bike for a half hour. He'sa textbook example of a guy with good stuff who became a great pitcher by working hard."

Interestingly, the Pirates lost in the playoffs to Drabek's first manager, Lou Piniella, who managed the New York Yankees when Drabek was recalled in 1986. Drabek was 7-8 with a 4.10 ERA in 27 appearances.

"I like what I saw of him, and the first thing I said after the season was, 'Don't trade Drabek,' " Piniella said. "The first thing they did was trade Drabek."

Trying to land a veteran starter, the Yankees sent Drabek, Brian Fisher and minor league reliever Logan Easley to the Pirates on Nov. 11, 1986, for pitchers Rick Rhoden, Cecilio Guante and Pat Clements.

It was Syd Thrift's first big trade as the Pirates' general manager, and it might have been his best.

Drabek, a former University of Houston pitcher, was 11-12 with a 3.88 ERA in 1987. The last three seasons, he has been one of the NL's most consistent starters, going 15-7 with a 3.08 ERA in 1988 and 14-12 with a 2.80 ERA in 1989.

Drabek's 1989 record resulted more from a lack of run support than so-so pitching. He allowed three runs or less in 27 of his 34 starts, but the Pirates scored two runs or less in 11 of his 12 losses. They averaged more than five runs a game in his starts this season.

"I didn't change anything from last year . . . and I don't think I pitched that much differently than last year," he said. "I was just more consistent from start to finish and got a lot of run support.

"Really, I've never expected any of this. When I was in high school, all I thought about was getting the chance to pitch in college, then maybe get drafted. Just getting to the major leagues was so far away, I never thought about this."