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IT’S A DIFFERENT STORY THIS TIME FOR DOWNS: 2 WALKS AND 2 HRS

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Just as he had done in Game 2 of the 1989 World Series, Centerville's Kelly Downs challenged the meat of the Oakland A's batting order last night. Unfortunately for Downs, and the San Francisco Giants, the results weren't the same.

In Game 2, Downs entered in relief with Rickey Henderson on second base and Carney Lansford on first base. Due up were the 3-4-5 Oakland hitters, Jose Canseco, Dave Parker and Mark McGwire.Downs got Canseco and Parker out on strikes, and Henderson was picked off second base to end the inning with no damage.

Last night, as the earthquake-plagued World Series resumed in Candlestick Park with Game 3, Downs was called in to relieve Giants starter Scott Garrelts in the fourth inning, with the A's leading 4-1. The 6-foot-4 righthander successfully got Walt Weiss and Dave Stewart out and extended his run of scoreless World Series innings to five.

But then came the fifth inning. First, Downs walked Rickey Henderson and Lansford. Again, just as in Game 2, he faced the 3-4-5 Oakland batters with two runners on base. In this case, because of no designated hitters in National League parks, the A's would send up Canseco, McGwire and Dave Henderson.

Downs worked Canseco to a 2-2 count and then threw him a slider that didn't drop. Canseco's bat met the ball over the fat part of the plate. The result: A three-run home run.

Downs struck out McGwire, but then yielded another home run, to Dave Henderson, and he was taken out of the game with the A's ahead, 8-3.

"My control just wasn't what it's been," said Downs. "And when I was throwing strikes, I was getting them high.

"Sure it's stunning, what happened. The last two weeks have been stunning.

"I went in there and just didn't throw strikes. I said before the Series began that you had to throw strikes against the A's. You couldn't afford to let them on base."

The 13-day Series layoff was not kind to pitchers of any description on a still night in San Francisco. In all, the A's drilled five home runs off the Giants staff, equaling a Series record. The Giants got two home runs of their own, and many hits carried deep into the outfield.

"I think it's like spring training," said Downs. "The first two weeks you see all these 14-9 games. From a pitcher's standpoint, pitching's going to be more off (after a layoff)."

Downs could pitch yet again in this World Series. San Francisco manager Roger Craig has designated him as his long reliever, and in a do-or-die fourth game tonight, there will be no hesitation to pull pitchers early, if necessary.