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Stewart has Cone's respect

Toronto's David Cone pitches Game 5 today against Dave Stewart, who very nearly (and should have) won Game 1 for the Athletics.

"I know how good he can be. I know how well he threw the ball the other night," Cone said. Stewart left with a 3-2 lead in the eighth; Jeff Russell gave up the game-tying single.

"I guess it's a big challenge to face such a great pitcher, a guy with the track record that he's had in big games. I'm looking forward to it, but deep down, I know it's going to be a tough assignment."

Stewart thrives on big games. "A lot of people don't like the spotlight or the pressure of maybe failing in front of millions of people. I always look at it as being fortunate to even be in this situation.

"I'm not casual about the situation. I'm going out there and giving it my best shot. I feel confident I'm going to win a game. If I don't get the win, I feel we're going to get the win."

A's on other end of comeback

Before Toronto rallied from its 6-1 deficit to win 7-6 Sunday, only one playoff team had come from five runs down to win.

Oakland did it, and the A's had eight innings in which to do it. Down 5-0 after 1{ innings in Game 3 against Boston in 1988, the A's beat the Red Sox 10-6.

Dennis Eckersley protected that lead with two shutout innings. No team had rallied from a five-run deficit after seven innings.

Since becoming baseball's recognized guru of closers, Eckersley never has been asked by manager Tony La Russa to pitch more than two innings in a save situation. Only three of his 51 saves in 1992 were two-inning jobs, and none of his three blown saves were that long.

Winfield has "death stare,' too

Stewart says only one player in the game can match his "death stare," the stern look he gives opponents and even his own teammates in the heat of battle _ and that's Dave Winfield of Toronto.

"Dave is pretty serious out there. He's all business," Stewart said.

Game just shy of a record

The 11-inning game was the first extra-inning game in the ALCS since Minnesota beat the Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings in Game 3 last season.

It was one inning short of the AL extra-inning record of 12 by Baltimore and Minnesota in 1969. And the 4-hour, 25-minute game time was an AL playoff record, eclipsing the 3:42 of Game 2 in the 1990 Boston-Oakland playoffs. Baseball had mistakenly said Saturday's 3:40 game was the longest.

Quote of the day

"Ol' Eck stuck it to us and gave us a good reason to stick it to him. The poor guy wouldn't look over at us when he didn't strike (Alomar) out. Little League stuff." _ Jack Morris on Eckersley, who celebrated his strikeout of pinch-hitter Ed Sprague in the eighth by looking at the Blue Jays' bench and clenching his fist.

Morris takes it in stride

Jack Morris' lifetime post-season record before this season was 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA. But in two games against the A's, he's 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA.

His reaction to all of this?

"We won, so I'm a happy son-of-a-gun," Morris said. "My part was so insignificant in this one. It feels like I pitched two days ago. But I'm the only pitcher in the playoffs who's thrown nine innings (in Game 1), so I'm happy with my performance. I'm not happy we didn't win."

Miscellany

The 11-inning game was the first extra-inning playoff in the ALCS since Minnesota beat the Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings in Game 3 last season. The day after playing 3 hours, 40 minutes in the second-longest ALCS game in history, Sunday's 4-hour, 25-minute contest shattered the mark of 3:54 set in an 11-inning game between Boston and California in Game 5 in 1986. The attendance at the Oakland Coliseum was 47,732, the second consecutive non-sellout here. There were 1,013 empty seats Sunday; 1,834 Saturday. Those were the first two non-sellouts here since the 1974 ALCS here against Baltimore. The A's and Blue Jays have combined for 11 errors in four games, only four behind the ALCS series record of 15 set in 1986 by California and Boston. Toronto's Joe Carter was 2-for-15 without an RBI in the series before his single scored Roberto Alomar with the first run of the comeback in the eighth inning.

_ BRUCE LOWITT and TIMES WIRES

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