Jay Howell met the expectations of Don Baylor and fans of the Oakland Athletics.

It was just another in a long line of unpleasant episodes for Howell in the last two weeks.It started with New York's David Cone saying Howell reminded the Mets of a high school pitcher because he threw so many curveballs.

Howell then pitched with pine tar in his glove and was suspended from the National League playoffs.

Before the World Series started, Baylor, a part-time player for the Athletics, said Howell couldn't handle late-inning pressure.

And fans of the Athletics, from whom Howell played from 1985-87, virtually booed him out of town.

Much to the delight of the Oakland Coliseum crowd of 49,316 Tuesday night, Howell allowed a solo homer by Mark McGwire with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Athletics a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Almost certainly, McGwire's homer kept the Athletics alive in the Series - the Dodgers now lead two games to one and no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series in baseball.

The homer by McGwire was the first by a right-handed batter against Howell this year. Howell, a right-hander, had given up only one home run in 66 innings, to Cincinnati's Paul O'Neill, a left-handed hitter.

On Oct. 5, Howell tried a low-and-away breaking ball to Gary Carter and the Mets' catcher blooped it into center field for a two-run double and a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers in the opener of the NL playoffs.

That prompted Cone's comments in a column under his byline.

Howell threw seven straight fastballs to McGwire, the last of which disappeared over the left-center field fence.

"He's a good breaking-ball hitter," Howell said of McGwire. "What happened against New York, I thought the curve ball would have been a good pitch and it didn't work out. Today, I thought the fastball was a good pitch and it wasn't."

Howell said the problem with the pitch to McGwire was location. "I threw a pitch and he hit it," he said. "I tried to throw a fastball up. No excuses. I just made a bad pitch up."