The Cincinnati Reds didn't have to be nasty in Game 1 of the World Series. They were in more of a me

thodical mood.In a stunning combination of power and pitching, the Reds destroyed Dave Stewart and the Oakland A's 7-0 Tuesday night.

Following a run of overpowering postseason performances, Stewart entered the game with an air of invincibility about him. But it didn't take long for the Reds to blow him away on this night.

Eric Davis hit a two-run homer in the first inning and the rout was on at Riverfront Stadium.

"That's the first time I can recall Dave not pitching well in a big game," Oakland third baseman Carney Lansford said. "But he's human."

Some were beginning to wonder, though.

Stewart entered the game with a 7-1 record and a six-game winning streak in postseason play. He was the World Series MVP when Oakland swept San Francisco last season, and the A's never trailed in any of the four games.

"That was probably my worst performance in a big game," Stewart said. "I lost the mental edge in the first inning and once you do that you lose the battle."

In Game 1, the Reds were the team doing the intimidating. Davis drove in three runs, Billy Hatcher scored three and Jose Rijo, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers combined on a nine-hit shutout.

When it was all over, the A's 10-game winning streak in postseason play was history and they seemed just a little shocked by the whole thing. They also knew Game 2 is tonight when 27-game winner Bob Welch is scheduled to pitch against left-hander Danny Jackson.

"People have to understand this is not going to be a walkover," Lansford said. "I know that it's easy to look at our team and everything that we've accomplished and expect that we're just going to step on the field and win. I've played on too many good teams, too many championship caliber teams, and it just doesn't happen that way."

The way it happened in Game 1 was a little surprising considering Davis was just about falling apart, with a sore shoulder and aching wrists and ankles.

Davis was 4-for-23 in the playoffs, with no homers or RBIs and nine strikeouts. Manager Lou Piniella even asked him to think about leading off during the series.

But after Hatcher walked with one out in the first inning, Davis hit a drive deep over the fence in left-center field.

"We can feel confident when we get a lead off a tough pitcher like Dave Stewart," Davis said. "But it's a team effort and if it wasn't me, someone else would get a big hit. That's the way it's been all year."

The Reds led the NL West wire-to-wire and then beat Pittsburgh in six games for their first pennant since 1976. The current Big Red Machine, however, often does it with spare parts.

Stewart gave up two more runs in the third on Hatcher's RBI double and a runscoring grounder by Paul O'Neill. The A's beaten right-hander departed after four innings, giving up four runs, three hits and four walks.

"Everybody has bad days," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "Next time, he'll probably be back in Dave Stewart form."

The Reds made the A's think just a little more with three runs in the fifth off Todd Burns.

"It was very important to get this first one," O'Neill said. "Everyone gets tired of hearing that we need to play one game at a time, but that's the truth in a short series like this."

Rijo might be needed to pitch two more games in the series, so Piniella lifted him after seven and turned it over to the Nasty Boys - Dibble and Myers.

By that time, though, there was nothing for them to get very excited about.

The A's still think they're the best team in baseball.

"We're all human," catcher Terry Steinbach said. "We just weren't as sharp as usual."