This time, Rickey didn't need to run.
Rickey Henderson trotted around the bases, instead of stealing them, with a pair of two-run homers as the Oakland Athletics ended Toronto's home hex and held off the Blue Jays 6-5 Saturday for a 3-1 lead in the American League playoffs. "It's great to show I can do something else besides run," Henderson said. "But as one man, I don't think I can go out there and win a game by myself." Instead, it seems like he's won all three for the Athletics and put them one victory away from the World Series for the second straight season. "I guess Rickey beat us today with his bat instead of his legs," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. Henderson made the most noise with his soft steps and Jose Canseco helped, too. He hit the longest home run in the short history of the SkyDome and added a run-scoring single. Canseco's homer was estimated at 480 feet, although many thought that guess was low. "I think about 600, really," Henderson said. "Everybody on the bench got up to see how far it would go." Continued from D1 The Blue Jays lost for the first time in 12 games with the retractable roof shut. The defeat ended a seven-game winning streak for dome teams at home.
"We have a lot of ways to win a game and we're showing that," Oakland manager Tony La Russa said.
The Athletics led 6-2 in the seventh before Toronto rallied. The Blue Jays got a runner on base in every inning and didn't give up until Dennis Eckerlsey retired pinch-hitter Lee Mazzilli on a popup with a man on first to end the game.
Eckersley and everyone else remembered the last time he was in a similar situation in a big game. That time, Kirk Gibson homered into history.
"I didn't think about that. You don't dwell on negative things. That's why you just want to get back out there and do it," said Eckersley, who got his second save of the series and sixth in league championship play, breaking the mark of five held by Tug McGraw.
Canseco also is making a strong comeback. He finished the World Series in an 0-for-18 rut and went hitless in the first six at-bats of this series. But he got two hits in Game 3 and came back with two more Saturday, including his behemoth blast.
"When I got back to the dugout, Rickey looked at me like I was some kind of robot," Canseco said.
The roof will be closed Sunday when Oakland tries to close out the playoffs. Dave Stewart, a 20-game winner for three consecutive years, will face Toronto's Dave Stieb in a rematch of Game 1, which the Athletics won 7-3.
Of the 37 teams that took a 3-1 lead in the World Series and playoffs, 30 went on to win.
Henderson, booed in pregame introductions and jeered after he flied out to open the game, quieted the 50,076 fans with a loud two-run shot in the third off loser Mike Flanagan. Henderson watched his 430-foot drive sail into the center field stands and clutched his fists, covered by neon-green batting gloves.
Two batters later, Canseco hit his monstrous drive.
After Toronto nicked winner Bob Welch for a run in the fourth, Henderson took another easy trip around the bases. He homered into the netting off the left field foul pole for his first two-homer game since April 24, 1987, to another chorus of catcalls.
That homer gave Oakland a 5-1 lead in the game and a 7-1 home-run advantage in the series. Toronto out-homered the Athletics 142-127 during the regular season.
Henderson, who has averaged 12 homers and 80 steals in his 11-year career, is 5-for-12 in the series and has reached base in 12 of 19 plate appearances, including six walks and a hit-by-pitch. He did not steal a base for the first time, leaving his total at a postseason record-tying seven, yet lived up to his billing as Canada's most unpopular sprinter since Ben Johnson.
Henderson's style of play has rubbed opposition players and fans wrong, and they got some satisfaction when Henderson dropped a fly ball in the fifth for an error and was picked off by reliever John Cerutti after walking in the ninth. Those mistakes, however, did not help the Blue Jays.
"I thought the fans were OK," Henderson said. "They were a little obnoxious at first, but it got better. They were laughing at me once when I was trying to throw a paper airplance over the fence and it kept coming back and I also laughed."
Walt Weiss stole a base, giving the Athletics a playoff record 12. Toronto stole three times, and the teams have combined for a playoff record 20, with Canseco being the only runner caught.
Welch, one of the decade's biggest winners but one of the worst in postseason play, got the victory by allowing two runs in 5 2-3 innings. In his previous five postseason starts, he gave up 16 earned runs on 28 hits and 16 walks in 21 innings.
Eckersley, the third Oakland pitcher, went 1 2-3 innings for a save. He relieved with the score 6-3 and runners on first and third with one out in the eighth.
Mookie Wilson hit into an run-scoring forceout, just beating the relay. Fred McGriff followed with a long single and Wilson dashed home, this time just ahead of Canseco's throw from right field.
Flanagan, 8-10 this season, was chosen to start because of his 18-7 lifetime record against Oakland, including 2-0 this year. The gamble failed when he got tagged for five runs on seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"The first two homers don't hurt me. The backbreaker, more or less, is Henderson's home run," Flanagan said. "I would give up a couple more like Canseco had as opposed to the one Henderson hit to make the game 5-1."
The Blue Jays got plenty of chances and did not take advantage. Trailing 3-0, they loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Toronto hit .356 with the bases loaded this year and led the majors with eight grand slams, but got only one run as Manny Lee struck out, Junior Felix hit an RBI grounder and Lloyd Moseby fanned.
"What a struggle that was," La Russa said. "I just talked to Cito and I told him, `Are you sure you want to do this for a living?' and he said, `No, I'm not."'