Playoff Series: Game 5 of 5

Minnesota leads 3-2 (as of 10/6)

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

    4:08 PM ET, October 6, 2002 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 011000003 5 - -
    OAK 001000003 4 - -

    W: B. Radke (2-0)

    L: M. Mulder (1-1)

    Twins win second straight game to eliminate A's

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Not only are the Minnesota Twins here to stay, now they're going home -- to open a most unlikely AL championship series.

    Game 5 at a glance
    Brad Radke was brilliant for the Twins as he pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on six hits while not issuing a walk. Radke threw 95 pitches, 68 for strikes.

    Potential AL MVP Miguel Tejada was a crushing 0-for-4, including a key inning-ending strikeout in the bottom of the eighth. For the series, Tejada was 3-for-21 (.143).

    Key move
    Ron Gardenhire's decision to start Denny Hocking at second base. Hocking hadn't started in any of the previous four games and appeared in only two of those games, going 1-for-2. Hocking delivered for Gardenhire as he went 2-for-4 and drove in the Twins' first run of the game with a two-out single in the top of the second.

    Key stat
    0-2. Mark Mulder's career record in a winner-take-all playoff games. He becomes the first pitcher in baseball history to lose two such games, whether it's Division Series, LCS or World Series.

    Key stat II
    The A's are 2-6 at home in the postseason over the last three years.

    Looking ahead
    The underdog Twins now meet the fellow underdog Angels in an improbable ALCS. The question for the Twins is whether they stay with their current rotation and start Joe Mays in Game 1 of the ALCS or instead go with Rick Reed on three days' rest. Kevin Appier is expected to make the Game 1 start for the Angels.

    Brad Radke pitched 6 2/3 dominant innings to beat Oakland again, and the Twins survived a late rally to top the Athletics 5-4 Sunday in the decisive Game 5 of their Division Series.

    The Twins made their first playoff appearance in 11 years despite a tiny payroll and baseball's offseason plan to eliminate them. But facing consecutive elimination games, the Contraction Kids won 11-2 at the Metrodome on Saturday, then crossed half the continent to win the tense clincher about 30 hours later.

    "People keep underestimating us, but we've had our backs against the wall all year long,'' said All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who hit a two-run homer in the ninth. "We're the Twins. That's the way we like to live, and we're not done yet.''

    But it didn't happen without drama. After A's closer Billy Koch gave up three runs in the ninth, Mark Ellis hit a three-run homer against Minnesota closer Eddie Guardado to pull Oakland back within a run.

    Randy Velarde singled with two outs, but Ray Durham -- who homered earlier and had three hits in the game -- fouled out to second baseman Denny Hocking.

    The Twins formed a joyous pile on the field, while many of the A's sat motionless in the dugout. Later, the Twins doused each other with champagne and beer -- as well as the ice from the champagne trays -- while leaving a layer of ice and water on the clubhouse carpet.

    The Twins, who ran away with the AL Central, will face Anaheim in the ALCS beginning Tuesday night in Minnesota. The wild-card Angels shocked the four-time defending AL champion New York Yankees in the division series.

    During spring training, there probably wasn't a soul who would have predicted a meeting between the underfunded Twins and the overlooked Angels.

    "I don't think we're surprised to be here, and I don't think Anaheim is surprised, either,'' All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Everybody else in the world? They're surprised as hell.''

    Matthew LeCroy drove home one run and scored another as the Twins got two early runs to support Radke, who got two of Minnesota's three wins in the series. The Twins simply outpitched the A's, who won 103 games and the AL West with their peerless starting rotation.

    Selig happy for Twins
    The team that Bud Selig tried to eliminate last winter is now playing for the AL pennant, and the commissioner likes what he sees.

    The Minnesota Twins, who survived baseball's contraction effort in the offseason, beat Oakland 5-4 Sunday in the decisive Game 5 of the division series.

    "I'm delighted for them. It's a great story, just because of the way they're playing,'' Selig said from his Milwaukee home. "I'm enjoying watching them.

    "The rest of it, the history of what happened before, it's in the past now,'' he said.

    The Twins advanced to meet the wild-card Anaheim Angels in the AL championship series starting Tuesday night at Minnesota.

    Selig was still setting his travel plans for the upcoming week, and wasn't sure whether he'd be able to make it to the Metrodome. In the past, he's tried to attend games in both the ALCS and NLCS.

    Minnesota won the AL Central this season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 1991.

    Back in April, Selig said he wanted to see the Twins do well.

    "I hope they win. They have a nice young club,'' he said at the time.

    -- Associated Press

    Pierzynski homered off A's closer Billy Koch in the ninth to finally give Minnesota some breathing room, and the Twins leaped out of their dugout to celebrate. Several hitters later, David Ortiz added an RBI double to make it 5-1 -- and provide what turned out to be the winning run.

    With consecutive victories against star Oakland pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, the Twins stuck around while big spenders like the Yankees and Arizona went home early this October.

    Hocking also had a run-scoring single as Radke, who also won the series opener at the Coliseum on Tuesday, mesmerized the A's and outpitched 19-game winner Mulder.

    LaTroy Hawkins dramatically struck out Miguel Tejada to end the eighth with a runner on, preserving a one-run lead. Guardado struggled mightily in the ninth in a non-save situation, but he survived.

    Minnesota hadn't been to the postseason since 1991, but the Twins have won all five playoff series they've been in since 1970. Oakland has lost its last five series since 1990 -- the last three in a decisive fifth game.

    "What we've got to do is find out how to get it done in three or four games instead of going to a fifth game,'' said manager Art Howe, who might not be back to figure it out with the A's.

    Oakland hoped the series would turn on its outstanding starting pitching. Instead, Mulder and Barry Zito were good but not great, while Hudson was terrible in two starts.

    Radke, on the other hand, was phenomenal in his first postseason starts after eight seasons with Minnesota. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter Sunday.

    Durham had a solo homer in the third, but he was the only A's player to get to second base against Radke, who left with a runner on in the seventh. J.C. Romero then got an easy grounder from Terrence Long, who went 3-for-18 in the series.

    But Long wasn't the only lousy Oakland batter. Tejada, the A's MVP candidate, went 0-for-4 -- striking out against the hard-throwing Hawkins with two outs and a runner on base in the eighth -- to finish 3-for-21 (.143) for the series. He also made several defensive blunders at shortstop, particularly in Oakland's Game 4 loss.

    With the Yankees out of their way, the A's thought this would be the season when its young roster finally showed it was capable of great things. Instead, they showed they're still not capable of handling postseason pressure; their lineup managed just six runs in the final two games of the series after getting 20 in the first three games.

    Mulder, pitching on three days' rest, struck out nine in seven innings, but he also allowed nine hits and got into trouble in each of the first four innings.

    "I was making a lot of my pitches, but they hit the few mistakes I made,'' Mulder said. "I just don't think we played that bad in this series. If Ray hits a two-run homer (in the ninth), we're not even talking about it. When you lose, I guess you have to find reasons.''

    Hocking singled home in the second. The Twins added another run in the third when Cristian Guzman doubled and scored on LeCroy's single.

    The crowd of 32,146 was smaller than either of the gatherings at the series' previous mid-week games, but it also was louder and more enthusiastic.

    Game notes

    Guzman got two doubles -- but he was easily thrown out at third base when he tried to stretch for a triple in the first inning. ... A's catcher Ramon Hernandez went 0-for-2. He's 1-for-27 in the past two postseasons.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press