NEW YORK (REUTERS) — Another night of stellar pitching, this time by Tim Hudson, moved Oakland within a win of ending the New York Yankees’ latest dynasty.
Hudson overwhelmed the Yankees for eight innings, Ron Gant homered and the brash, young Athletics held off New York 2-0 Thursday night to head home with a 2-0 lead in their first-round AL playoff series.
After becoming only the fourth team to win three straight World Series titles, the Yankees must win three straight games to reach the AL championship series.
Oakland, beaten 3-2 by the Yankees in last year’s division series, has won eight straight over New York going back to the regular season ? and the Yankees haven’t led in their last 76 innings against the A’s.
After surviving a ninth-inning scare, the A’s head to a ballpark where they won their last 17 home games of the regular season. Barry Zito (17-8), another of the left-handers who have given the Yankees difficulty this year, starts for the A’s on Saturday against Mike Mussina (17-11).
Hudson, backed by Gant’s fourth-inning homer and a ninth-inning run on an error by Scott Brosius, held the Yankees to one hit in the first five innings, then escaped jams in the sixth and seventh.
Hudson allowed six hits in all before Jason Isringhausen took over to star the ninth.
Bernie Williams doubled off the glove of third baseman Eric Chavez leading off and Tino Martinez walked.
But Isringhausen recovered, throwing a called third strike past Jorge Posada and retiring David Justice and Brosius on popups for his second save of the series.
These are the types of October games New York has won in recent years, but age showed against the A’s, unafraid of the Yankees’ success, mystique and rabid fans.
After two-out singles by Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter put two on in the sixth, Hudson worked the count full on Paul O’Neill, the emotional backbone of the Yankees’ through their championship years. But, with the crowd of 56,684 on its feet, O’Neill didn’t come through in the clutch this time, instead lofting a harmless flyout to shallow center.
Singles by Martinez and Justice gave New York runners at the corners with two outs in the seventh. After a mound visit by Oakland manager Art Howe, Hudson got Brosius to hit an easy grounder to second for a forceout.
The A’s, whose 102-60 record was second-best in baseball behind Seattle, got just enough offense to beat Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte, like Roger Clemens during Oakland’s 5-3 win in Wednesday’s opener, struggled without his best stuff and had only one 1-2-3 inning before departing in the seventh. But the A’s were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving them at 0-for-19 in the series.
Power had proved the difference thus far, with the A’s scoring four of their six runs on home runs that led off innings. Eleven of Oakland’s 19 hits in the two games have gone for extra bases.
Hudson and Game 1 winner Mark Mulder have neutralized the Yankees’ central run producers. O’Neill and Brosius are hitless in the series while Williams and Justice have one hit each.
Johnny Damon, 6-for-9 in the series, gave the A’s some breathing room in the ninth when he tripled down the right-field line off Mariano Rivera and came around when Brosius, who earlier made a spectacular backhand play to throw out Jermaine Dye, missed Jason Giambi’s grounder to third with the infield in.