- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

MIAMI — Roger Clemens walked off the mound a hero. Alex Gonzalez and the Florida Marlins danced off the field as winners.

Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a home run and the Marlins survived yet another late Yankees’ jolt, beating New York 4-3 last night to even the World Series at two games each.

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After both teams saluted Clemens in what might have been his final appearance, pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra saved the Yankees with a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth that tied it at 3.

It turned out the drama was just beginning once the clock passed midnight. And at 12:28 a.m., the slumping Gonzalez hit a low line drive off Jeff Weaver that barely cleared the left-field wall for the win.

Both teams threatened in extra innings, with Marlins reliever Braden Looper escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th and posting the victory.

The Yankees had won seven straight extra-inning games in the Series since 1964. The previous two were among the most stirring in their storied history, set up when Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius hit two-out, two-run homers in the bottom of the ninth on consecutive nights against Arizona’s Byung-Hyun Kim in 2001.

But the Marlins also knew a thing about late magic. Their last Series win at Pro Player Stadium was an 11-inning victory in Game 7 against Cleveland in 1997.

Now with things all even, it goes to Game 5 tonight. David Wells starts against Florida’s Brad Penny in a rematch of the opener that the Marlins won 3-2.

The Marlins guaranteed the Series will return to Yankee Stadium. And that means there’s still a chance Clemens will pitch again — and it would be in Game 7.

While Clemens did not win, the Yankees at least made sure he did not lose.

Shut down for eight innings by Carl Pavano, New York came back in the ninth against Ugueth Urbina.

Bernie Williams singled with one out, Hideki Matsui walked and Jorge Posada grounded into a force play. David Dellucci came in to run for Posada, and Sierra fouled off two full-count pitches before tripling into the right-field corner.

The Yankees were delirious as they spilled out of the dugout to celebrate the big hit. Earlier, they came off the bench in respectful fashion for Clemens’ farewell.

All the elements were in place for Clemens’ coronation as one of the all-time greats. His place in the Hall of Fame is already assured, and the Yankees hoped he could go out with a win that would put them one victory for yet another championship.

But the plucky Marlins had other ideas.

Miguel Cabrera, only 1 when Clemens made his major league debut in 1984, put the Marlins ahead with a two-out, two-run homer in the first.

Florida had managed only two runs in the previous two games combined, and his fourth homer of this postseason gave the sellout crowd of 65,934 at Pro Player Stadium reason to believe.

Clemens gave up another run in the first, and left after the seventh after striking out Luis Castillo.

Popping flashbulbs lit up the ballpark and Clemens’ teammates patted him on the back as he made his way to the bench, waving his hand. The ovation continued and Clemens came out of the dugout to acknowledge the cheers from the Marlins, patting his heart and doffing his cap.

Catcher Ivan Rodriguez clapped his hands as did the other Marlins, and manager Jack McKeon saluted Clemens from the dugout. It made for a rare scene — opponents saluting someone on the other bench during a game that meant so much.

Clemens got a no-decision, leaving him at 3-0 lifetime in the World Series. The 41-year-old ace was trying to become the first 300-game winner to win in the Series since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1926.

Instead, he was outpitched by a guy who grew up idolizing him in Connecticut and later as a prospect in the Boston farm system.

Pavano shut down the Yankees on seven hits and one run over eight innings. He walked none, struck out four and helped himself by getting Jeter to ground into two double plays.

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