The Arizona Diamondbacks advanced to the National League Championship Series in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals and will now take on the Atlanta Braves in what is expected to be a parade of low-scoring affairs.
Both of the participants in the ALCS will be determined today and tonight when the New York Yankees host the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners entertain the Cleveland Indians.
Tony Womack, who moments earlier had been unable to lay down a squeeze bunt that would have ended the game, quickly redeemed himself Sunday night with a bloop, two-out single in the ninth that delivered the winning run for the Diamondbacks.
In a riveting pitcher's duel filled with dramatic moments, Arizona's Curt Schilling and St. Louis' Matt Morris made big pitch after big pitch in a decisive Game 5 contest that featured outstanding defense and one home run by each side.
Reggie Sanders hit a 447-foot blast to left field leading off the fourth to put Arizona in front and it appeared for much of the night that would be enough for Schilling and the Diamondbacks.
But J.D. Drew tied it with two outs in the eighth with a homer that just cleared the right-field fence.
Morris, who allowed seven hits through eight innings, was replaced by Dave Veres to start the ninth and Veres promptly got into trouble when Matt Williams doubled down the right-field line.
After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, the Diamondbacks had runners on first and third with one out and Womack at the plate.
Womack looked at a strike and took a ball before the squeeze sign was given. As reliever Steve Kline made his pitch, pinch-runner Midre Cummings broke from third base. But the pitch was almost in the dirt, practically impossible to bunt.
St. Louis catcher Mike Matheny made a good stop of the ball and chased down Cummings to make the tag for the second out. Greg Colbrunn went from first to second on the failed squeeze try and was then replaced by pinch-runner Danny Bautista.
Having missed a chance to win the game, Womack now had two strikes on him. He fouled off a pitch, took ball two and then fouled off another before reaching out and looping the next offering from Kline into shallow left field.
Bautista, running at the crack of the bat with two outs, easily slid home ahead of the throw from left fielder Kerry Robinson.
In Oakland, Bernie Williams drove home five runs and Orlando Hernandez came through when his team needed him most the Yankees sent their American League Division Series to a Game 5 with a 9-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
After losing the first two games of the series at home, New York's three-year reign as baseball's No. 1 team appeared over.
But after surviving a tense, 1-0 victory Saturday, the Yankees hammered the Athletics Sunday and the two teams headed back to New York to decide which will advance to the ALCS. The winner will take on either Cleveland or Seattle in a best-of-seven series that will begin Wednesday.
And in Cleveland, Freddy Garcia held Cleveland's big bats in check until Seattle's offense finally came to life with 10 baserunners over the final three innings, allowing the Mariners to rally for a 6-2 victory that forced a fifth and deciding game in their series.
The Indians overwhelmed the Mariners with 17 runs in the third game of the series Saturday, pushing the team with an all-time record equaling number of victories to the edge of elimination from the playoffs.
Cleveland, with ace Bartolo Colon on the mound, again took the lead Sunday. But that lead was only 1-0 through six innings thanks to a second-inning leadoff homer by Juan Gonzalez.
With only three more frames remaining in which to salvage their season, the Mariners finally went to work with five different players driving in runs over the closing innings.
Rams outslug Giants
ST. LOUIS, Mo., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Rams, supposedly a finesse team, flexed their muscles to outslug the New York Giants Sunday while the Baltimore Ravens, with a reputation for toughness, found themselves being carved up by the Green Bay Packers.
Those two games were the highlight NFL attractions on a day that saw a series of games decided at the final whistle.
Trung Canidate replaced an injured Marshall Faulk and scored on a one-yard run with 4:16 left in the fourth quarter to give the unbeaten Rams a 15-14 decision over the New York Giants.
The Giants knocked out Faulk, did not allow St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner to throw a touchdown pass and forced four second-half turnovers, but still came up short.
St. Louis' winning touchdown drive also featured a questionable interference call against New York safety Sam Garnes.
"That was a heck of a team that we beat," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "It was a slugfest. One of those heavyweight bouts you would expect out of the last two NFC champions."
In Green Bay, Brett Favre picked apart the NFL's top defense with three touchdowns passes and the Packers forced four turnovers en route to a 31-23 victory over the Ravens.
Three games went into overtime Sunday. San Francisco rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit to beat Atlanta in the extra period, 37-31, on a Jeff Garcia-to-Terrell Owens scoring pass. Tennessee let a lead get away, but edged Tampa Bay in overtime, 31-28, in the Titans first win of the season. And New England ralled from a late 10-point deficit to beat San Diego in overtime, 29-26.
In addition, Ricky Williams scored on a one-yard run on the final play of the game to give New Orleans a 27-25 victory over Carolina. Only two of the 13 games played Sunday were decided by more than seven points.
Other NFL results: Chicago 20, Arizona 13; Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 14; Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 17; Minnesota 31, Detroit 26; New York Jets 21, Miami 17; Seattle 34, Denver 21; Oakland 23, Indianapolis 18.
Sabres win third straight at home
BUFFALO, N.Y., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Vyacheslav Kozlov scored a pair of fluke goals in the third period and Martin Biron stopped 25 shots Sunday, leading the Buffalo Sabres to their third straight home victory, 4-1 over the winless Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite trading six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek in the offseason, Buffalo is tied for second place in the Northeast Division with a 3-2
The only player acquired from Detroit in the Hasek deal, Kozlov scored the eventual game-winner 2:33 into the final period when his centering attempt from behind the net caromed in off the skate of goaltender Johan Hedberg.
Kozlov also threw a backhander at the net from along the goal line that hit Hedberg's glove and trickled into the net to cap the scoring with 1:59 remaining.
Other NHL results: Edmonton 3, Minnesota 3; Tampa Bay 3, anaheim 2; Columbus 2, Chicago 2.
Bob Estes wins birdie shootout
Estes carded a bogey-free 9-under-par 63 at the TPC-Summerlin, which yielded 14 scores of 66 or better in the final round. Among them was Davis Love's course-record 61.
Lehman and Sabbatini shot 66 and 64, respectively, but finished a stroke behind Estes, whose 30-under 329 was just a shot off the tournament record.
Estes grabbed the lead for good at the pivotal par-5 16th hole and picked up the third win of his 14-year career.
Estes, who won at the St. Jude Classic, and David Toms are the only players to have won twice on the PGA Tour since June, doing so in a combined 21 starts.
In England, veteran Ian Woosnam completed one of the best weeks of golf in his career by capturing the Cisco Match Play Championship. His victims during the week included U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie, defending champion Lee Westwood and then Padraig Harrington in the final.
Martina Hingis to have surgery
ZURICH, Switzerland, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Martina Hingis will undergo surgery today on torn ligaments in her right ankle and will be sidelined six to eight weeks.
Already having lost her 73-week hold on the No. 1 world ranking to Jennifer Capriati, the Swiss star likely be unable to end the year as the top-ranked player. She has earned that honor three of the last four years.
Hingis suffered the injury Saturday after just 20 minutes of her semifinal encounter with Lindsay Davenport at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Filderstadt, Germany.
Davenport went on to capture her fifth WTA title of the year in that tournament, getting past Justine Henin, 7-5, 6-4.
Michael Schumacher finishes big season
SUZUKA, Japan, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Michael Schumacher completed his most brilliant Formula One season Sunday with a victory at the Grand Prix of Japan at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The German Ferrari driver, starting from his 11th pole of the season, completed the 53-lap, 192.995-mile race in one hour, 27 minutes, 33.298 seconds for his 53rd career victory. He averaged 131.964 miles per hour.
Much suspense had been taken out of the season's finale when Schumacher clinched his fourth World Drivers' Championship at Hungary in August. One race later, he also broke Alain Prost's career victory mark with his 52nd all-time triumph.
With Sunday's win, the 32-year-old Schumacher raised his career points total to 801, breaking the previous record of 798.5 held by Prost. It also was a record-tying ninth victory of the season, a feat achieved by Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Schumacher himself in 2000, and fourth all-time at Suzuka-another record.
In Martinsville, Va., NASCAR's Old Dominion 500 was rained out and will be run today.
San Jose forces third game
SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Manny Lagos collected a goal and two assists Sunday night as the San Jose Earthquakes forced a decisive third game in their MLS Cup semifinal series with a 4-0 rout of the Miami Fusion.
Miami hosts Game 3 on Wednesday, but will be without two key players after forward Diego Serna and defender Ivan McKinley received red cards. San Jose defender Zak Ibsen also was ejected and will miss the decisive contest.
Game 2 was much like the opener with plenty of physical play. McKinley was a target of whistles and boos all night after marking All-Star Landon Donovan in Game 1. Donovan scored the winning goal and added an assist, padding his league-leading total to 10 points.
Webber injured in exhibition win
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Chris Webber had to be carried off the court with a sprained left ankle in the first quarter Sunday night in Sacramento's 107-88 exhibition victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
The most coveted free agent on this summer's market, Webber finally opted to re-sign with the Kings for $123 million over seven years. Last season, he averaged 27.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and led the franchise to its first playoff series win in 20 years.
Webber slipped on a wet spot under Sacramento's basket and went down. He was carried off the court by teammates Scot Pollard and Lawrence Funderburke. The All-Star power forward will have precautionary x-rays and sit out several days.
The Kings scored 99 points through three quarters and built a 31-point lead. They scored just eight points in the final period and still cruised to their second win in three games.
Other NBA exhibition results: Memphis 121, Los Angeles Clippers 113; Atlanta 101, Orlando 81; Phoenix 69, Seattle 62.
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