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Knoblauch Gets Yankees Started

Game 1: His three-run homer and Martinez's grand slam help bury Padres, 9-6, in opener.


NEW YORK — The World Series returned to a familiar stage Saturday night in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.

And New Yorkers enjoyed the stirring opening.

The American League champions scored seven runs in the seventh inning on a three-run home run by Chuck Knoblauch and a grand slam by Tino Martinez, powering the Yankees past the NL champion San Diego Padres, 9-6, before a sellout crowd of 56,712.

In their 35th World Series appearance, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series by defeating Padre ace right-hander Kevin Brown, who had been dominant in the NL division and championship series. Brown pitched 6 1/3 innings and left with a 5-2 lead, but the Padre bullpen collapsed.

New York starter David Wells overcame three Padre homers--including a multi-homer game by Greg Vaughn--and pitched seven innings to improve to 4-0 in four postseason starts this season. Closer Mariano Rivera retired the four batters he faced to nail down the victory and a save.

Rookie left fielder Ricky Ledee played a key role for the Yankees with a two-run double, going two for two with a run and reaching base in four plate appearances.

Trailing, 5-2, with two on and one out in the seventh, the Yankees broke the game open. Knoblauch homered to left field on a 0-and-2 count against Donne Wall, who entered the game to face him in relief of Brown, tying the score, 5-5.

Wall was replaced by Mark Langston after Derek Jeter singled, and Langston got the second out. The Padres decided to intentionally walk Bernie Williams with Chili Davis on deck, and Davis walked on a full count to load the bases.

On a 2-and-0 count against Martinez, Langston threw a pitch that appeared to be a strike, but home plate umpire Rich Garcia called ball three.

On the next pitch, Martinez hit a shot into the upper deck in right, giving the Yankees a 9-5 lead. The grand slam was the 17th in World Series play.

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