Williams' three-run homer hushes home-field haters

Posted: Monday, October 29, 2001

PHOENIX -- Matt Williams made the home crowd boos of two weeks ago seem like ancient history, and Danny Bautista proved his manager right again.

Williams and Bautista provided all the offense Randy Johnson needed and then some in a 4-0 victory Sunday night, and the Diamondbacks are headed to New York up two games to none in the World Series.

Williams' three-run homer off Andy Pettitte in the seventh inning made him the first player to hit home runs for three teams in World Series play. He homered for San Francisco in 1989 and for Cleveland in 1997.

''I guess, to me, it just means that I've played on some pretty good teams, that's all,'' Williams said.

Williams and Bautista each had two hits, accounting for all but one of the five allowed by Pettitte

Bautista was the game's early hitting hero with a second-inning double that revved up the packed house at Bank One Ballpark.

Johnson nursed a 1-0 lead until Williams slammed Pettitte's 0-1 pitch into the left-field seats in the seventh inning to drive in three runs.

The deafening cheers as the 35-year-old third baseman rounded the bases were far different from his home-field reception in the division series against St. Louis. Williams went hitless in his first 15 at bats in that series, and was booed loudly.

Since then, he has gone 9-for-25 (.360). He is 3-for-6 with four RBIs in the first two games of the World Series.

''As I told you guys two weeks ago, it's nothing that a couple of hits won't take care of,'' Williams said.

Plagued by injuries the last two years, Williams had become a favorite target of Diamondbacks' fans, which angered manager Bob Brenly. Williams and Brenly were teammates in San Francisco.

''We're probably closer than I am with the rest of the guys on this team, just because of our history,'' Brenly said. ''I'm a huge Matt Williams fan. There were a lot of times during the course of this season when people were ready to give up on Matty, but I never was. I know what a warrior he is and I will stick by him as long as he wants to play.''

Until Williams' big swing, Johnson seemed destined to have to shut out the Yankees to get the victory.

After Reggie Sanders led off the second with a single, Bautista lined the first pitch he saw from Pettitte into the right-center field gap. The shot sent Sanders home with his third run of the Series.

Arizona's lineup usually is loaded with lefties. Brenly stuck with four of them against Pettitte, who mows down left-handers with regularity.

Against Pettitte, the four left-handers -- Tony Womack, Craig Counsell, Luis Gonzalez and Mark Grace -- were 0-for-11 with six strikeouts.

Bautista started in center field in place of left-handed Steve Finley, whose .351 postseason average is the best on Arizona's roster.

''I came to the park today and I was hoping I was going to play, you never know,'' Bautista said. ''I saw my name in the lineup and said, 'Here we go. Let's do it.'''

Brenly said he thought of other options to get a right-handed bat into the lineup -- replacing Grace with Greg Colbrunn at first base or Counsell with Jay Bell at second.

But starting Bautista was the preference defensively, even though Finley is a Gold Glove outfielder.

''Bautista has not won a Gold Glove in his career, but he's darned good in center field,'' Brenly said.

It wasn't the first time that Brenly's hunch to go with Bautista was the right move. In Game 5 of the NLCS, Brenly went with Bautista even though Finley had better numbers.

Bautista singled in the first run in a 3-2 victory over Atlanta that sent Arizona to the World Series for the first time.

This was more than a hunch, though. Bautista was the only Diamondbacks player with much of a batting history against Pettitte -- 4-for-15, a .267 average.

When he doubled, Bautista advanced to third on the throw home that failed to get Sanders, giving Arizona a runner at third with no outs. But Williams grounded out on the first pitch he saw and Bautista wound up stranded 90 feet from home.

Sanders, who had nine hits in 63 postseason at-bats, with 32 strikeouts, going into the World Series, is 3-for-6 in his two games against the Yankees.

By now, the Diamondbacks are used to Brenly's sometimes surprising moves.

''It's amazing,'' Sanders said. ''It really is. We question a lot of it, but it seems to work out.''



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