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Looking back at memorable Game 6s in sports

2004 Stanley Cup final

The Lightning faced elimination and needed a Game 6 victory in Calgary to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Then, 33 seconds into the second overtime, the Lightning's Marty St. Louis knocked in a rebound for a 3-2 win. Two nights later in Game 7 at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Lightning won its only Stanley Cup with a 2-1 victory.

The ultimate in sports is Game 7. But, all too often, the anticipation of Game 7 is better than the actual game. Looking back over history, many of the most dramatic moments in sports actually happened in Game 6. Tonight, the Yankees host the Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series. So, to get you ready for what could be a special game, we look back at some of the most memorable Game 6s in sports history.

1977 World Series

One of the more tumultuous seasons in Yankees history came to a thrilling end when Reggie Jackson — to the Yankee Stadium chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie" — blasted three consecutive homers on consecutive swings off three Dodgers pitchers to lead the Yankees to an 8-4 win. The victory gave the Yankees their first championship in 15 years.

1980 NBA Finals

The Lakers were looking to close out the 76ers, but they had to do so in Philadelphia without center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had injured an ankle. So in stepped Magic Johnson, above. The 6-foot-9 rookie point guard played center and turned in, perhaps, the greatest game of his life. He had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block. The Lakers closed out the series and took the NBA championship with a 123-107 victory.

1991 World Series

The defining moment in the Hall of Fame career of Twins centerfielder Kirby Puckett, left. With Minnesota trailing at home 3-2 in the series, Puckett made a leaping catch at the wall to save a run in the third. Then, with the score tied at 3, Puckett led off the bottom of the 11th by crushing a Charlie Leibrandt pitch deep to left. As the ball settled into the stands, CBS announcer Jack Buck made a legendary call and set up Game 7 by simply saying, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" The Twins would win a classic Game 7, 1-0 in 10 innings, to take the title.

1986 National League Championship Series

One of baseball's epic games. The Mets led the Astros 3-2 in the 1986 NLCS, but this one felt like Game 7. That's because Astros pitcher Mike Scott, who was practically unhittable that series, was waiting to pitch if the Astros could force Game 7. The Astros took a 3-0 lead to the ninth in Game 6, but the visiting Mets rallied to send the game to extra innings. The Mets scored a run in the 14th, but the Astros tied it on Billy Hatcher's homer in the bottom of the inning. Finally, the Mets scored three in the 16th but had to hold off an Astros rally in the bottom of the inning. The Mets advanced to the World Series with a 7-6 victory.

1986 World Series

The Red Sox had a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 10th over the Mets at Shea Stadium and were one out away from their first championship since 1918. Three consecutive singles and a wild pitch tied the score. Then the Mets' Mookie Wilson hit a little bouncer down the first-base line. The ball scooted between the legs of hobbling Boston first baseman Bill Buckner, and the winning run scored from second. In Game 7, the Mets overcame a 3-0 deficit and kept the Boston curse alive with an 8-5 victory.

2003 National League Championship Series

The infamous Steve Bartman game. The Cubs, looking for their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first championship since 1908, had a 3-2 lead in the series and took a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning. With no outs and one on, Luis Castillo lifted a fly ball down the leftfield line. As leftfielder Moises Alou moved under the ball, it was deflected by Bartman, a 26-year-old Cubs fan, above. With new life, Castillo drew a walk, and the Marlins rallied for eight runs to take an 8-3 victory. The Marlins then won 9-6 in Game 7.

1985 World Series

This Game 6 still haunts Cardinals fans. St. Louis carried a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth at Kansas City and needed just three outs for the title. Leading off the inning, the Royals' Jorge Orta hit a bouncer to first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped to pitcher Todd Worrell covering first. Though replays clearly showed Worrell beat Orta to the bag, umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe. That was the start of a two-run rally that salvaged Game 6 for the Royals, who won the title the next night with an 11-0 victory.

1999 Stanley Cup final

One of the NHL's most controversial endings to a Stanley Cup final. The Stars and Sabres were tied at 1 after regulation with Dallas needing a win to take the Cup. The game carried into the third overtime when the Stars' Brett Hull, whom Buffalo fans say was illegally in the goal crease, shoved a rebound past goalie Dominik Hasek to bring the Cup to Dallas for the first time.

1975 World Series

Game 6 of the '75 World Series might be the greatest baseball game ever played. Facing elimination, the Red Sox trailed the Reds 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Bernie Carbo hit a three-run homer. Both teams had chances to win in the following innings, but one Red Sox runner was cut down at home, and Boston rightfielder Dwight Evans made a spectacular catch to rob Joe Morgan of a potential homer. Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, above, lifted a deep fly to left. The only question was whether it would stay fair. Using his flailing arms, Fisk willed the ball fair and set up Game 7, which was won by the Reds.

1997 American League Championship Series

During batting practice before Game 6, Cleveland's Tony Fernandez hit a ball that injured teammate Bip Roberts, who was unable to play. So who took his place in the lineup? Fernandez. With Baltimore's Mike Mussina and Cleveland's Charles Nagy in a pitchers duel, the game remained scoreless until the top of the 11th, when Fernandez's solo homer sent Cleveland to the World Series.

1993 World Series

Only two World Series have ended on a walkoff home run. In 1960, Bill Mazeroski hit a ninth-inning homer that led the Pirates past the Yankees in Game 7. The other came in this series. The Phillies led 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth when Toronto's Joe Carter, above, stepped up with two on and one out. Carter hit a 2-and-2 Mitch Williams pitch over the leftfield wall to give the Blue Jays an 8-6 win and their second straight title.

Looking back at memorable Game 6s in sports 11/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 8:51pm]
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