Wednesday, October 4, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sock it to 'em!

Seattle Times staff reporter

CHICAGO - It took three years, almost to the day, but the Mariners were finally able to wipe out some of the sting and stigma of an easy exit in their last Division Series.

In a long day's effort that journeyed into night, they beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-4, in a game that for 10 innings and more than four hours yesterday was all the postseason is meant to be.

Edgar Martinez and John Olerud snapped a 4-4 tie with their first back-to-back homers of the year. That decided an opener that saw Seattle break ahead 3-0, fall behind 4-3, come back to tie on another massive hit by David Bell in the seventh inning and finish with a strong bullpen performance.

"Playoff games are supposed to be great, but this really was a great game, wasn't it?" said Bell, who got to swing away rather than bunt and doubled to put the tying run on third. "While you're playing, you can sense that a game is special like this one."

While Seattle survived a series of early mistakes, none the kind that show up on the scoreboard, both clubs excelled at every aspect of play.

There was long ball with four homers, including Joe Oliver for Seattle and Ray Durham for Chicago; short ball with bunts and bases stolen; and, with the Mariner relief pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings, there was crucial mound work.

And then, there was the mystery. What did Mariner Manager Lou Piniella say to Mike Cameron in the 10th inning?

In a bizarre moment, Piniella moseyed out to talk to Cameron, who stood on first base, astonished, along with everyone else in Comiskey Park.

"I told him the NASDAQ was down by 113 points today," Piniella said. "And Cisco was a hell of a buy."

Cameron, who had led off the inning with a single before Alex Rodriguez just missed a hanging breaking ball and flied out for the first out, said, "He told me, `Just steal this base, and we'll go out later and have a couple of drinks.' "

Later, Cameron admitted he had made that up, that Piniella had talked about "getting a good jump, about not being afraid to be picked off."

Piniella and Mariner General Manager Pat Gillick said they would reveal the secret message "after the series is over," indicating the Mariners know something about the White Sox.

No one had ever seen a manager go onto the field for personal instructions to a runner.

"Never," Mark McLemore said.

"Never," Jay Bunner said.

"Never even in Little League," Cameron said.

With closer Keith Foulke working his second inning, Martinez had a 1-0 count. Seeing Piniella telling a runner something, the Sox then pitched out. But Cameron didn't go, a nice piece of camouflage for what was coming.

Cameron stole on the 2-0 pitch. With Martinez ahead in the count, Foulke threw an off-speed pitch, expecting Martinez to look for a fastball.

"When Lou went on the field, I was thinking, `What the . . .?' " Martinez said. "But it made me aggressive on the 2-0 pitch, thinking I had to get Cam home. It was a changeup, and I was way out in front. I was so far in front, I thought they might throw me another, so I was looking for a changeup."

Foulke threw another changeup and got the pitch up in the strike zone. Martinez drilled it on a line over the left-field fence to make the score 6-4. On the bench, McLemore turned to Piniella and said, "You're GOOOOD."

"Lou just said, `Sometimes you get lucky,' " Buhner recalled.

Olerud followed with a long homer to center, and closer Kazu Sasaki had a three-run edge he made stand.

It was Seattle's second three-run lead of the day and much more permanent than the first. The Mariners jumped on White Sox starter Jim Parque for two runs in the first, one on Rodriguez's RBI single, the other on Olerud's infield out, a play on which Durham made a diving grab behind second.

Oliver's leadoff homer in the second put starter Freddy Garcia's lead at 3-0, but over the next two innings, the game turned upside down for the Mariners.

With one out and one on in the second, Chicago's Herbert Perry bounced the ball just to the right of Garcia, who got enough glove on it to spoil a double play. With two away but the inning still open, the Sox got back into the game with two runs.

Then two more on Durham's leadoff homer and Magglio Ordonez's triple just inside first base were good for a 4-3 White Sox lead in the third.

When Garcia loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, Piniella called on Brett Tomko, who ended the inning with two fly balls.

"That's the game there," Mariner reliever Arthur Rhodes said. "That was the turning point."

It was. Tomko started a bullpen roll that virtually shut down Chicago's big bats.

"I think we know we were just in a great game," Buhner said. "It was a game that tested our character, but that's what we've been showing all season. And this is when character is supposed to count most."

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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