Tonight, Bob Welch finally gets a World Series start for the Oakland Athletics.

Exactly one year ago - Oct. 17, 1989 - Welch was preparing to start Game 3 of the World Series against the Giants when an earthquake hit San Francisco at 5:04 p.m. PDT.Players from both teams scrambled to find their families and friends scattered throughout Candlestick Park. For Welch, it was even harder because his children were home with a babysitter.

"It's something you still think about now and then," Welch said last week. He doesn't want to talk about it now.

The World Series was delayed 11 days while the Bay area recovered and Welch never got a chance to make his start. When play resumed, Dave Stewart and Mike Moore made quick work of the Giants to complete a four-game sweep.

This time, against Cincinnati, Stewart failed in Game 1 Tuesday night as the Reds routed Oakland 7-0. Welch will face Cincinnati's Danny Jackson.

A year ago, Stewart, an Oakland native, spent the hours immediately following the quake talking to those left homeless and those trying to help find the missing in the crumbled highways.

"I wish things moved a little faster sometimes," Stewart said. "There's still a lot of work to do. Roads are still closed, exits and entrances are blocked off. But the people in the area are tough and they're surviving."

When the rumbling finally stopped, life and baseball went on. The A's won their World Series and are now in a position to win another if they can recover from Tuesday's blowout.

Welch, who had a home heavily damaged in the Marina District, came back to have the best season of his career.

He finished 27-6 with a 2.95 earned run average and will probably win the Cy Young Award at the age of 33. It was the first time in Welch's 12-year career that he won 20 games.

"You can see the confidence growing in him," Oakland manager Tony La Russa said. "He put all his pitches together this year. You can see by the look in his face that he's in command."

Welch's 27 victories was the most since Steve Carlton also won 27 games for Philadelphia in 1972.