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Two playoff veterans duel today

Jack Morris has another chance to help Toronto go the distance in the American League playoffs.

Morris pitched a complete game but took the loss in Wednesday's playoff opener, which Oakland won 4-3 on a home run by Harold Baines in the top of the ninth. Today Morris faces Bob Welch, who is making his first start of the series.

Morris, a free-agent acquisition, paid off with his third career 20-win season in 1992.

"I respect Jack," Welch said Saturday. "I see what he's done. I've admired him for years. He was a big horse before he came to Toronto."

Morris won four postseason games with Minnesota last year, earning the World Series MVP award by going 2-0 against Atlanta. He is 7-2 in postseason games.

Welch is 2-0 in three AL playoff starts for Oakland. He has made two World Series starts for the A's, getting a no-decision each time.

The right-hander also was a member of the 1978 and 1981 NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers. One of the enduring images from the '78 series against the Yankees was Welch's confrontations with Reggie Jackson.

Welch had three stays on the disabled list this year and started just 20 games, but he won 10 or more games for the sixth straight season, going 11-7.

Long-playing show

Keeping up their reputation as baseball's longest-playing team, the A's on Saturday hosted the longest game in ALCS history: 3 hours and 40 minutes. That fell just four minutes short of the major-league playoff record, a 3:44 meeting between the Mets and Dodgers in 1988.

They had other things to do

The weather for the third game of the AL playoffs was hotter than the ticket. The crowd of 46,911 fell short of a sellout, despite a sunny, 86-degree, wind-free afternoon.

Home streak

Oakland had not lost a home game in the ALCS since 1981, when the Yankees swept the A's in three games.

Ones that got away

The three wild pitches by the Athletics on Saturday _ two by Ron Darling, one by Jeff Russell _ tied a playoff record set by the California Angels in 1982.

"They were balls I should catch," Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach said. "When you work with guys all year, you should be more familiar with the movement on the ball."

He hasn't worked that much with Russell, who came over Aug.

31 in the Jose Canseco trade. "Part of the job," Steinbach said. "You're supposed to know the stuff your pitchers have."

Significant stats

Willie Wilson is 7-for-9 lifetime against Juan Guzman, getting two hits and a walk in three trips against him Saturday. . . . Roberto Alomar extended his playoff hitting streak to eight games with his fourth-inning homer _ his first ALCS extra-base hit ever. . . . Tom Henke's saves in Toronto's two victories are his only saves in ALCS play. . . . The victory by the Blue Jays on Saturday was only the fifth by an East team over the West in the last 26 American League playoff games. . . . Oakland had not lost a home game in the ALCS since 1981, when the Yankees swept the A's in three games. The A's had gone 6-0 in Oakland since then.

_ ASSOCIATED PRESS

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