The Oakland Athletics say they will need all five rest days resulting from their sweep of the American League Championship Series.

"It's a definite plus," Manager Tony La Russa said Sunday after the Athletics rode Jose Canseco's bat and sterling pitching by Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox."When you talk about your closer (Eckersley) pitching four games in a row, he definitely needs the time off. It's a great time to back off, catch your breath and get ready for the (World) Series."

The Series appearance will be Oakland's first since 1974. It was keyed by Eckersley, the ALCS MVP who set a playoff record with four saves.

"This is the best I've felt in my life," Eckersley said. "I didn't think this would happen to me. I haven't pitched this much this year. I was so pumped up, it didn't matter what stuff I had. I'm glad we're not playing a day after tomorrow because I need a rest."

Canseco made sure of it, banging out a playoff record-tying third homer and two singles.

"Jose Canseco is God," teammate Mark McGwire said.

Dave Henderson doubled home a run in the third before the Athletics sealed their final triumph with two runs in the eighth.

No American League team had swept the playoffs since 1984, when the Detroit Tigers prevailed in the final year of the best-of-five format.

Oakland, which so far in this decade had finished fourth three times and fifth once, opens the World Series next Saturday night in the home stadium of either the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Mets.

"Team-wise, it's no preference," Canseco said. "I'd rather go to Los Angeles, but only because it is a shorter trip. Those six-hour flights can kill you."

Stewart earned the victory, giving up four hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out five before Ellis Burks' leadoff single in the eighth knocked him out. Rick Honeycutt got three outs before Eckersley pitched a hitless ninth.

In front of an Oakland Coliseum crowd of 49,406, first-game loser Bruce Hurst allowed two runs before leaving after four innings because of shoulder stiffness.

The Red Sox, who this year lost all eight games in Oakland, closed within 2-1 in the sixth on Jim Rice's RBI grounder but never seemed to do enough to beat a team that led the majors with 104 victories.

"It's over, but we lost to the best club in the league," Boston Manager Joe Morgan said. "They're solid all around, they've got good pitching. It's toughgetting a lot of runs off good pitchers."

Oakland went ahead 4-1 in the eighth. Canseco singled past reliever Lee Smith, stole second and scored when McGwire banged a single up the middle. Don Baylor drove in the Athletics' fourth run with a sacrifice fly.

"The last four games they did everthing right," said Boston utilityman Spike Owen. "They showed they're not a one-dimensiional team. They can hit the long ball and do everything else as well."

Canseco slammed a 2-2 pitch over the fence in right-center to make it 1-0 in the first.