Doug Drabek provided the Pittsburgh Pirates with some arms control of their own Wednesday night to send the National League playoffs back to Cincinnati.
Drabek allowed two runs and seven hits in 81/3 innings as the Pirates beat the Reds 3-2 in Game 5. Bob Patterson came on with one out and runners on second and third and, after an intentional walk, got a double play to end the game."We've done it this way all year," Drabek said. "Now we have to do it two more times."
The best-of-7 series resumes Friday night in Cincinnati with the Reds needing one victory for their first NL pennant since 1976.
The NL winner, of course, will have the honor of trying to knock off the Oakland Athletics. All the defending World Series champions have done is win three consecutive American League pennants and 10 straight postseason games.
If history is any indication, the Pirates may have the Reds right where they want them. In the 1925 and 1979 World Series, Pittsburgh trailed 3-1 and came back to win both.
"I'm proud of my guys," Pirates manager Jim Leyland said. "They've responded in situations like this all year."
Drabek, looking for his second complete game of the series, gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Paul O'Neill, and Eric Davis followed with an infield single off the third base bag. Hal Morris sacrificed the runners to second and third and Patterson relieved as the crowd hushed.
"I lost a little bit after I ran the bases in the seventh," Drabek said. "But Bob came in and got just what we needed."
Patterson intentionally walked Chris Sabo to load the bases. Jeff Reed then hit into a 5-4-3 double play, started by Bobby Bonilla, to end the game. Bonilla was supposed to start in right field but third baseman Jeff King was sidelined by a sore back.
Last season, Bonilla made 35 errors and was moved to right field. Reed's grounder was hardly of the room service variety, either.
Bonilla ranged to his left to cut the ball off and start the DP. Reed had entered the game in the eighth at catcher after Ron Oester pinch hit for Joe Oliver, leaving the Reds with a hole in the lineup.
Drabek seemed to get a litte tired in the eighth inning but Leyland stuck with his ace.
"To be honest if I had Dennis Eckersley I probably would have taken him out," Leyland said. "But he's going to win the Cy Young."
After losing Game 1 at Cincinnati, the Reds won three straight games by getting solid starting pitching, outstanding relief from the Nasty Boys, superb defense and timely hitting.
Drabek, the loser in Game 2, got off to another shaky start when Barry Larkin led off Game 5 with a double. Larkin moved to third on Drabek's wild pickoff attempt and scored when Herm Winningham hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
During the regular season, the Reds were 39-13 when they scored in the first inning. But the Pirates did some damage of their own in the bottom of the first.
Tom Browning, the winner in Game 2, hit Jay Bell with a pitch and Andy Van Slyke tied the score with a one-out triple to right-center. After a walk to Bonilla, Barry Bonds, who is 3-for-17, hit a weak grounder to first allowing Van Slyke to score the go-head run.
Browning left after five innings, yielding three runs on only three hits.