At least the Oakland A's have a day off to figure out what happened.

Manager Tony La Russa and his A's have some time to consider how they lost the firsttwo games of the World Series and turned Billy Hatcher and Billy Bates into local legends.

In a game that had more twists and turns than the Ohio River, Cincinnati beat Oakland 5-4 in 10 innings Wednesday night. Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the Series 31 times in 41 chances.

"Once we won the division, this team felt it could win," Reds manager Lou Piniella said. "I knew that once we got over the hump and won the division, we'd be competitive in postseason play."

Sure, most thought the Reds might win a game in the World Series. But a 2-0 lead against the mighty A's?

Oakland entered the World Series with 10 consecutive postseason wins and looking for its second consecutive world championship. The A's swept through the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs and had Dave Stewart well rested to open against the Reds.

Cincinnati took care of Stewart, winning 7-0 in Game 1, and used another team effort to make the long trip to California very pleasant.

Game 3 is set for Friday night when Tom Browning is scheduled to pitch for the Reds against Mike Moore.

The A's seemed set when Rickey Henderson scored in the first inning of Game 2. They were 26-7 during the season when Henderson scored the first run of the game. But the Reds and Hatcher wouldn't go away.

With the score 4-4 in the 10th inning, Piniella picked Bates to pinch hit, and the diminutive rookie delivered an infield single off the usually untouchable Dennis Eckersley. It was Bates' first hit in a Reds uniform.

Actually, he wasn't even supposed to be here. But when second baseman Bill Doran came up with a bad back, Bates was added to the World Series roster.

Chris Sabo followed with a sharp single and Joe Oliver won the game with a single just inside the third-base bag. Once again, the fireworks exploded into the Cincinnati sky.

"I just wanted to get a good pitch when I came up to bat," Oliver said. "I had never seen Eckersley pitch before and I wanted to take a pitch and see how he threw. I was glad after I hit the ball that it stayed fair."

The A's took a 4-2 lead with three runs in the third inning off a shaky Danny Jackson. Jose Canseco hit his first homer since Sept. 16, Ron Hassey had a sacrifice fly and Mike Gallego capped the inning with an RBI single.

But on this night, the A's couldn't hold the lead or Hatcher.

Oliver doubled in the fourth and scored on Ron Oester's pinch single off Bob Welch to make it 4-3. The Reds tied it in the eighth when Hatcher led off with a triple and eventually scored on pinch-hitter Glenn Braggs' RBI force out at second.

Hatcher, a platoon player in center field, is 7-for-7 in the two games with five extra base hits. His streak of seven hits in a row broke the previous mark set by Goose Goslin (1924) and tied by Thurman Munson (1976).

"I don't care about the records," Hatcher said. "I just want that ring."

Hatcher also doubled in a run and scored in the first, doubled in the third and reached on a bunt single in the fifth. He is the 46th player to have four hits in a World Series game.

"We know we are playing against the world champions and they had won 10 consecutive postseason games, so we're not going to be overconfident," Hatcher said.

And again, the Reds bullpen was nasty when it counted most.

Scott Scudder, Jack Armstrong, Norm Charlton and Rob Dibble, who got the win, combined for 71/3 scoreless innings.

In eight postseason innings, Dibble has given up three hits and struck out 12.

"I have due respect for their bullpen," La Russa said. "They shut us down; we had a lot of good at-bats against them, but not quite enough. I was disappointed the way we went about our business."

The A's are faced with the reality that their best pitchers, Stewart and Eckersley, came up losers in the first two games of the World Series.

"I think it makes it better," La Russa said. "Our club feels like it's taking its best shot, and you don't have any complaints or regrets other than it didn't go in your favor."