Playoff Series: Game 2 of 5

Minnesota leads 3-2 (as of 10/2)

Game 1: Tuesday, October 1
Minnesota 7Final
Oakland 5
Game 2: Wednesday, October 2
Minnesota 1Final
Oakland 9
Game 3: Friday, October 4
Oakland 6Final
Minnesota 3
Game 4: Saturday, October 5
Oakland 2Final
Minnesota 11
Game 5: Sunday, October 6
Minnesota 5Final
Oakland 4

    4:06 PM ET, October 2, 2002 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 000001000 1 - -
    OAK 30051000 - 9 - -

    W: M. Mulder (1-0)

    L: J. Mays (0-1)

    Mulder strong; A's bats come alive

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Mulder didn't see panic in his teammates' eyes after the Oakland Athletics' playoff run got off to a rough start.

    Game 2 at a glance
    The A's were stunned in Game 1, but quickly got things going thanks to Eric Chavez. Following a leadoff walk to Ray Durham and a double by second-place hitter Scott Hatteberg, Chavez deposited a Joe Mays offering over the right-field fence, giving the A's an early 3-0 lead.

    Why was Mays pitching in this game? No way is he the Twins' No. 2 starter and it showed as he was bombed for six runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

    Key move
    Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's decision to start Mays in the first place. In 17 starts during the regular season, Mays was 4-8 with a whopping 5.38 ERA. Perhaps, Johan Santana or Kyle Lohse would've been a better choice to get the start. Santana was 8-6, 2.99 in 27 outings this seasson, including 14 starts. Lohse was 13-8, 4.23.

    Key stat
    Barry Zito, who starts Game 3 for the A's, won 23 games this season, the most by an AL lefty since Frank Viola won 24 for the Twins in 1988.

    Key stat II
    The A's are hitting .333 as a team in the first two games. In the Division Series against the Yankees last year, the A's hit .247 in five games and scored just 12 runs.

    Looking ahead
    Rick Reed starts Game 3 for the Twins and is their hottest pitcher as he's 6-1, 2.09 over his last nine starts. Zito counters for the A's. He hasn't lost a game since Aug. 8, a span of 10 starts.

    He saw a quiet maturity from three years of postseason experience -- and a pride that wouldn't allow the A's to fall off the pace in the division series.

    David Justice's bases-loaded triple highlighted Oakland's 14-hit barrage, and Mulder pitched six strong innings as the A's beat the Minnesota Twins 9-1 Wednesday to even the series at one game apiece.

    Eric Chavez had a three-run homer, and rookie Mark Ellis got three hits as Oakland emphatically replied to the Twins' 7-5 comeback victory in Game 1 with a tremendous offensive game against Joe Mays (0-1) and the Twins' bullpen.

    ''Just looking at the guys in the locker room, you could tell everybody knew how important this game was,'' said Mulder, who allowed five hits. ''We've been through this before. There was no need to say anything. We had to have this one, and we got it. Now, we'll go to Minnesota and see what happens.''

    After losing to the Yankees in the last two postseasons, Oakland finally got a matchup against a team with even less playoff experience -- almost none, in fact. The A's used that maturity to full advantage in Game 2, knocking the Twins down early and never letting them up.

    ''I know their makeup, what they're all about, and that's why I didn't have to sit around and talk to anybody,'' Oakland manager Art Howe said. ''I just checked out the scene when I came in. Everybody seemed to be pretty relaxed and confident, and they went out and played that way.''

    Each of the first seven hitters in Oakland's lineup got an extra-base hit as the A's jumped to an 8-0 lead after four innings. Justice, the most prolific run-producer in playoff history, added three more RBI to his record total during Oakland's five-run fourth.

    The A's, who won 103 games and the AL West to earn their third straight trip to the playoffs, showed they wouldn't let one loss distract them from their plan to go further into October. Time after time in the early innings, the A's came up with the timely hits that eluded them a day earlier.

    Miguel Tejada, their MVP candidate, had only an RBI double -- but the A's haven't relied on one hitter since Jason Giambi left last winter to join the Yankees. Five players drove in a run, and leadoff hitter Ray Durham scored three times as Oakland rolled.

    ''With our offense, we just look for certain guys to check in from time to time,'' Chavez said. ''Everybody knows our team is built on pitching. We've just got to ride their coattails as far as they'll take us. Today, we were able to make it easier.''

    The Twins were on an emotional high after winning in their first playoff appearance in 11 years, but they were brought back to reality by the A's dominant victory. Minnesota got just seven hits, scoring its only run on Cristian Guzman's homer in the sixth.

    ''We belong. Today, it might not seem that we belong, but they came out with a whooping stick,'' All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter said.

    David Justice's bases-loaded triple was one of may big hits for the A's.

    Game 3 is Friday at the Metrodome, where 23-game winner Barry Zito will face Rick Reed, one of the Twins' two postseason veterans. The crowd should be much better -- and a lot louder -- than the ones in Oakland, where there were thousands of empty seats in the Coliseum's upper deck for both games.

    Playing in the postseason for the 10th time in the last 12 years with his fourth different team, Justice had another remarkable October day. His triple down the right-field line broke the game open, with three runners scampering home.

    Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said he was embarrassed by his team's effort, and his players agreed.

    ''That wasn't emotionally draining,'' Doug Mientkiewicz said with a grimace. ''That was, 'Please hurry up before they score 40 runs against us.'''

    With two hits in his major league-record 109th postseason game, Justice passed Pete Rose for second place in career postseason hits. Justice has 88 hits -- second only to the Yankees' Derek Jeter -- and 63 RBI, tops in major league history.

    Justice's teams have made the postseason in every year since 1990 -- including 1996, when he was injured -- except for the strike-shortened 1994 season. He has talked about retiring after the season, but he would like to add a third World Series ring to the ones he won with the Braves in 1995 and the Yankees in 2000.

    When asked if he's the new Mr. October, Justice said: ''Don't get Reggie (Jackson) riled up. I've always assured him he'll always be Mr. October.''

    Mulder (1-0) -- who went 19-7 and finished the season on a six-game winning streak -- wasn't overpowering, but he mostly stayed out of trouble while striking out three. He didn't allow a runner to reach third base in the first five innings.

    The Twins hit just .252 against left-handers in the regular season, and they struggled against Mulder -- though Guzman broke up Mulder's shutout bid with a solo homer in the sixth.

    ''I guess if you're going to get beat, you might as well get waxed,'' Gardenhire said.

    Mays missed three months of the regular season with an elbow injury, and he won just once in six September starts. He never looked comfortable against the A's, allowing nine hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings.

    Chavez got Oakland started with a three-run homer to right in the first inning. It was the first postseason homer for Chavez, who drove in two runs in Game 1.

    Tejada, who had just one hit in his first seven at-bats, got Oakland going in the fourth with an RBI double. After Chavez and Jermaine Dye walked, Justice cleared the bases -- and Ellis drove home Justice with a double.

    Game notes

    Dye was awarded a walk in the fourth when Twins reliever Tony Fiore licked his hand with a 3-0 count. ... A's catcher Ramon Hernandez went hitless in four at-bats. He's 0-for-18 over the past two postseasons. ... Three Twins got their first playoff hits: Matthew LeCroy, Dustan Mohr and Denny Hocking.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press