Kelly Gruber's two-run homer, David Cone's eight innings of five-hit pitching and a wild-pitch rule that kept Oakland from scoring gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-1 victory Thursday night in Game 2 of the American League playoffs.
The victory evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece, with Game 3 set for Saturday in Oakland.
Cone, who struck out six (including Rickey Henderson twice), gave way to Tom Henke after Ruben Sierra opened the ninth with a triple to left-centerfield. The crowd of 51,114 thundered its approval of Cone's performance, and he doffed his cap in response as he headed toward the dugout.
Henke allowed a run-scoring single by Harold Baines, whose homer had given Oakland the victory in Game 1, before preserving Cone's win.
Gruber's homer in the bottom of the fifth off Mike Moore followed a frantic top of the inning in which Willie Wilson, heading to third on the front end of a double steal, continued home with what seemed to be the game's first run on a wild pitch by Cone.
But the ball wound up in Toronto's dugout. Under Rule 7.05(h), Wilson was awarded only the one base, third, and Mike Bordick was sent back to second. And when Cone struck out Walt Weiss and Henderson, the game remained scoreless.
But only momentarily. Moore walked Candy Maldonado with one out in the bottom of the fifth and Gruber homered to left.
Even before the ball cleared the fence, barely after he had cleared the batter's box, Gruber flung his arms roofward.
Gruber also doubled in the seventh and scored on a sacrifice fly by Manuel Lee.