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Rocket finale, late rally upstaged
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10/23/2003  2:40 AM ET 
Rocket finale, late rally upstaged
Marlins' walk-off homer in 12th tops Yanks, ties Series
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com

After allowing three runs on five hits in the first inning, Roger Clemens responded with six innings of scoreless, three-hit ball Wednesday in his final Major League start. (Richard Patterson/MLB.com)
  • Game 4 wrapup: Marlins 4, Yankees 3 (12)

  • World Series walk-off home runs

  • Own the Rocket's final start

    MIAMI -- Just when Jeff Weaver thought he was on his way to redeeming his lost season, Alex Gonzalez put an exclamation point on the right-hander's rough 2003.

    The Marlins shortstop belted a walk-off homer in the 12th inning Wednesday night, handing the Yankees a 4-3 defeat in Game 4 of the World Series at Pro Player Stadium.

    Weaver, pitching for the first time in four weeks, put a damper on the final start of Roger Clemens' illustrious career, as the Yankees had battled back in the ninth inning, taking the Rocket off the hook for what would have been his first World Series defeat.

      Rocket's final ride
    When Roger Clemens took the mound in Game 4, it was his 26th start in the playoffs, seventh in the World Series and 632nd of his career. In the biggest stage in baseball, it most likely was his last.
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    Ruben Sierra's pinch-hit, two-run triple against Marlins closer Ugueth Urbina tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning, spoiling a gem thrown by Florida right-hander Carl Pavano, who limited the Yankees to one run over the first eight frames.

    "You've got two great teams that deserve to be here, and you saw great baseball tonight," said manager Joe Torre. "We're disappointed we lost, but I'm proud of my guys. They kept coming back."

    The series is now tied, 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Thursday night in Miami. The series will shift back to the Bronx on Saturday for Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.

    "I didn't want to walk him," Weaver said of Gonzalez, who was just 5-for-53 (.094) in the postseason before the home run. "I just wanted him to put the ball in play. He did a little more than that."

    Clemens' swan-song start had a shaky beginning. The Rocket sat down the first two Marlins in the opening frame, but Ivan Rodriguez's two-out single sparked an early Florida rally. After Rodriguez's hit, Miguel Cabrera, the 20-year-old rookie, drilled a 2-2 pitch the opposite way from the 41-year-old Clemens into the right-field seats, giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

    Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell followed with singles, putting runners at the corners. Derrek Lee poked a single through the hole at shortstop, scoring Conine to put the Yankees in a three-run hole after one inning.

    New York responded by loading the bases with three singles to open the second, including infield hits by Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada. After Karim Garcia struck out for the first out, Aaron Boone lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Bernie Williams to cut the lead to 3-1. Clemens grounded out to end the inning, stranding two runners in scoring position.

        Derek Jeter   /   SS
    Derek Jeter
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 195
    Bats/Throws: R/R

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    "We had our chances, like bases-loaded, no outs," said Derek Jeter. "We had a few of them, we just didn't come up with the hit when we needed it."

    Clemens settled in after his 42-pitch first inning, needing just 54 pitches to get through the next five frames, holding the Marlins from doing any more damage.

    "That's the mark of a great pitcher," Torre said, "when you give up a few like that in the first and you don't let it affect what you have to do from there on out."

    Clemens returned for the seventh, striking out Pavano and getting Juan Pierre to fly out on the first pitch. Clemens then got ahead of Luis Castillo, 1-2, as flashbulbs began to pop with each pitch. Clemens, whose spot in the batting order was due up first in the eighth, knew that the next out would be his last.

       Roger Clemens   /   P
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 238
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
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    "So many people were using flash photography, it was quite amazing," Clemens said. "I think everybody started understanding that it was going to be my last inning or my last hitter or my last pitch."

    Castillo battled Clemens for five more pitches before looking at strike three on a fastball that tailed over the inside corner. Clemens pumped his fist on his way off the field.

    "He struggled in the first, but he's been pretty good at putting things behind him," Jeter said. "He did exactly what we expected him to do -- he gave us an opportunity to win."

    The 65,934 in attendance gave Clemens a standing ovation, honoring him for his 20 seasons of supremacy. As the Marlins took the field to start the eighth, some of Florida's players looked to the Yankees dugout and started to clap for the Rocket, who came back on to the field for a curtain call, waving to the fans and to his opponents.

    "Zim (bench coach Don Zimmer) and some other coaches shoved me out to get out there. The fans were cheering. It was very nice," Clemens said. "When you battle like I have over my career and you get the respect from your peers, that's all you can ask for. I appreciate that a lot."

    "It was such an emotional thing when he came out of that game," Torre said. "You look over, it's the World Series, and you see the opposition standing and applauding. I think that's quite a tribute to him."

    But the crowd's attention was soon back with the home team as Pavano, who matched Clemens zero for zero during the middle innings, sat the Yankees down in order in the eighth, striking out Jeter to bring the Marlins three outs away from tying the series.

    Urbina relieved Pavano to begin the ninth and quickly retired Jason Giambi. Williams singled to center and Matsui walked, putting the tying runs on base. Posada hit into a fielder's choice, putting runners at the corners with two outs.

        Ruben Sierra   /   OF
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 215
    Bats/Throws: S/R

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    Urbina fell behind on Sierra, 3-0, but battled back to work the count full. Sierra fouled off a couple of pitches, then lined Urbina's eighth pitch down the right-field line for a triple, scoring Williams and pinch-runner David Dellucci to tie the game.

    "I just tried to put the bat on the ball," said Sierra, who was stranded at third after Boone grounded out to short. "He's a great pitcher, so I just tried to stay back, concentrate more and look for the right pitch."

    Jose Contreras tossed two scoreless innings of relief for New York, while Florida's Chad Fox, after getting through the 10th, ran into trouble in the 11th.

    Williams led off the 11th with a double, his fourth hit of the night. Fox then walked Matsui, putting runners at first and second. Dellucci bunted them into scoring position, and the Yankees sent up Juan Rivera to pinch-hit for Contreras.

    "I needed to score a run," said Torre of the decision.

    The Marlins elected to walk Rivera and brought in Braden Looper to get out of the jam. Looper did just that, striking out Boone and getting John Flaherty to pop out to third.

        John Flaherty   /   C
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 195
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
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    "Looper has a good sinker that runs in on you," Flaherty said. "I found that out the hard way."

    Weaver started the 11th for New York, making his first appearance in a game since Sept. 24. He retired the Marlins in order, pumping his fist as he walked off the mound.

    "I was very confident out there, I felt good about the way I warmed up and then after the 11th inning," said Weaver, who has struggled mightily this season. "The regular season was behind me, so I felt I had a chance to make things go my way. The way I felt tonight, I thought I could give them a couple of solid innings."

    "Everybody on our club was pulling for Weave, after all that he's been through this year," Flaherty said. "He threw a nice inning, and I was thinking that this would be a little justice for him. It didn't work out that way."

        Jeff Weaver   /   P
    Height: 6'5"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R

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    After Looper tossed a scoreless top of the 12th, Gonzalez worked the count full to lead off the Marlins' half of the 12th. The shortstop drilled the payoff pitch down the left-field line, barely clearing the 330-foot sign on the wall, setting off a celebration both on the field and in the stands.

    "He hit it 332," Weaver said. "It just didn't go my way at 3-2. I was confident that I could have gotten a breaking ball over, but I had to go with my best pitch, which is my sinker."

    "He hasn't pitched a whole lot, but he's been throwing," Torre said. "He got to 3-2 and you certainly don't want to walk somebody to lead off an inning. He made him hit it, he did, and the game is over. That was basically it."

    The loss leaves the series knotted, and now a best-of-three will determine the World Series champion. David Wells takes his 10-3 career postseason record into his Game 5 start, looking for redemption after his Game 1 loss to Brad Penny and the Marlins.

        David Wells   /   P
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 235
    Bats/Throws: L/L
    Nickname: Boomer

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    "Andy Pettitte has been our guy, 0-1, but Boomer seems to rise to the occasion for us," Flaherty said. "Hopefully we can do a little better against Penny than we did at our place, try to go home ahead in the series."

    Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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