Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yankees Edge Braves in Pitching Duel

ATLANTA -- The New York Yankees have no rational explanation for this phenomenon, and at this point don't really care.


Call it fate. Call it Yankee pride. Call it luck.


The Yankees can only tell you that, after their 1-0 victory Thursday night over the Atlanta Braves in the final game played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, they are on the brink of winning their first World Series championship since 1978.


The Yankees, behind the pitching of starter Andy Pettitte, who threw 8 1/2 shutout innings, have taken a three-games-to-two lead in the World Series and can win the title Saturday or Sunday at Yankee Stadium.


The Braves, the defending World Series champions, figured four days ago that they would be winning successive championships at home. They easily defeated the Yankees in the first two games at Yankee Stadium, returned home, and spent the next couple of days talking about their place in history. One local newspaper even compared the Braves to the '27 Yankees.


Instead, the Braves sat numb in their clubhouse Thursday night wondering what has gone wrong. The Yankees became the first team in World Series history to lose their first two games at home and win the next three on the road.


Pettitte, relying on sinkers away rather than his customary repertoire of fastballs in, never gave the Braves a chance.


He didn't permit a hit until the fifth inning.


He allowed only three runners to reach second base the first eight innings.


He never allowed a baserunner to reach third until the ninth.


Perhaps the most difficult aspect for Pettitte was watching Wetteland trying to finish off the Braves.


Pettitte, who had thrown only 88 pitches through eight innings, was greeted by Chipper Jones' leadoff double in the ninth. Pettitte retired left-handed slugger Fred McGriff on a grounder to first base, advancing Jones to third.


Torre summoned closer John Wetteland, who saved the Yankees' first two victories. Javier Lopez stepped to the plate and hit Wetteland's first pitch right to third baseman Charlie Hayes, who threw to first for the second out.


Pinch-hitter Ryan Klesko was intentionally walked, putting the winning run on base. Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox went to the bench again and called for left-handed hitter Luis Polonia.


Wetteland threw fastball after fastball. Polonia fouled off pitch after pitch. Wetteland threw six consecutive fastballs. Polonia fouled off all six of them.


Now, with the crowd on its feet screaming, Polonia hit the next fastball toward the right-center gap.


Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill caught the ball over his shoulder just in front of the warning track.


Brave starter John Smoltz lost simply because of an outfield mix-up in the fourth inning, and the one unearned run looked like a dozen the way Pettitte was pitching.


Hayes led off the fourth by hitting a deep fly ball to right-center. Center fielder Marquis Grissom waved off rookie right fielder Jermaine Dye, but Dye cut in front of Grissom.


Grissom momentarily took his eye off the ball and tried to make a basket catch, but the ball caromed off his glove, and Hayes was safe at second.


Bernie Williams then grounded out to second, enabling Hayes to reach third. That brought up Cecil Fielder who slammed a double into the left-field corner and the Yankees had their precious run, the only run they would need.





"This is a dream,'' Pettitte said, "it's unbelievable to win a World Series game. I felt like I had good stuff, and as long as I didn't try to change anything or do anything different, I was going to be all right.''


"This is a dream,'' Pettitte said, "it's unbelievable to win a World Series game. I felt like I had good stuff, and as long as I didn't try to change anything or do anything different, I was going to be all right.''