You'll have to excuse the Indians for messing up the weekend. They just weren't done playing.
Facing Atlanta ace Greg Maddux with their season one loss from expiration, the Indians responded Thursday night with a 5-4 victory over the Braves.
By doing so, they extended the World Series to at least a sixth game, which will be Saturday night in Atlanta. Indians right-hander Dennis Martinez is scheduled to face Braves left-hander Tom Glavine.
"I've said for four years that this team has a lot of character, and nothing has changed my mind about that," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "This club has never quit."
The Indians, held to two opposite-field singles by Maddux in Game 1 Saturday night, roughed him up Thursday _ banging out seven hits and four runs in seven innings.
And, even more encouraging for the Indians, the big hits came from the previously quiet big bats in their lineup.
Albert Belle hit a two-run home run in the first. Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez produced back-to-back two-out run-scoring singles in the sixth. And Thome added a 436-foot home run in the eighth, off reliever Brad Clontz, that proved to be the winning margin.
But the biggest Cleveland hero of the night was Hershiser. The 37-year-old right-hander, his previously perfect post-season record tarnished by Saturday night's loss, held the Braves to two runs (one earned) on five hits through eight innings.
And, after his fielding miscues contributed to an Atlanta run in the fifth, he made a key defensive play in the eighth, snaring Marquis Grissom's line-drive and doubling Mike Mordecai off first.
"I was just protecting myself," Hershiser said. "I was fortunate I caught it and we got the guy out at first."
The Indians did not wrap things up easily. Reliever Jose Mesa gave up a double to Fred McGriff and a home run to Ryan Klesko in the ninth, but struck out Mark Lemke to end the game.
The Indians are trying to become the seventh team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the Series. Thirty-three of the 39 teams that have held 3-1 advantages have gone on to win. The last to come back from down 3-1 was the 1985 Kansas City Royals, over St. Louis. In 1958, the Milwaukee Braves blew a 3-1 lead and were beaten by the New York Yankees.
A crowd of 43,595 came out for the last game of the season at Jacobs Field.
The Indians started the night by showing the wacky John Belushi pep-talk scene from the movie Animal House. Then things really got wild.
With Omar Vizquel on second and two out, Indians slugger Albert Belle _ the subject of scrutiny and controversy because of his run-ins with the media _ hit the first pitch he saw over the rightfield fence to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
The next batter was Eddie Murray, and Maddux's second pitch came in high and tight. Murray bailed out safely, then glared and pointed at Maddux. The two exchanged words, and players raced onto the field from both benches and bullpens, but there were no additional skirmishes.
"I think the deal with Eddie got us a little fired up," Thome said.
Belle is uncooperative with the media in normal circumstances, and the national media spotlight of the World Series has exacerbated the situation. His tirade in the dugout before Game 3, where he yelled and cursed at NBC-TV reporter Hannah Storm, has been in the headlines all week and is being investigated by Major League Baseball.
There was more between Maddux and Murray.
In the fourth, Murray lined a bullet right up the middle that Maddux somehow gloved. Then in the sixth, with Carlos Baerga on second, Maddux intentionally walked Belle to get to Murray, who flied to right.
The Braves, held to one hit by Hershiser in the first three innings, rallied to tie the score. Luis Polonia, who drove in the go-ahead run in Wednesday's game, homered to rightfield to lead off the fourth, making the score 2-1. Polonia, in the lineup only because regular leftfielder Ryan Klesko is serving as the designated hitter, hit only 17 home runs in 1,095 career regular-season games.
Atlanta got its second run in the fifth as Hershiser lent a hand. After Klesko led off with a single to right-center, Mark Lemke hit a chopper toward the mound. Hershiser gloved it but threw wide of second, pulling shortstop Omar Vizquel off the base. Charlie O'Brien bunted the runners up a base, and the Indians walked pinch-hitter Dwight Smith to load the bases.
Marquis Grissom then hit a squibber between the mound and third base. Hershiser tried to make a barehanded play but could not grasp the ball as Klesko raced home with the tying run. Hershiser escaped the inning when Polonia hit a hard ground ball into a 6-4-3 double play.
"The game changed in the fifth inning," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "That ball goes one way or the other it doesn't take much."
The Indians went back on top 4-2 in the sixth as they continued to hit Maddux hard. Baerga doubled with one out, and the Braves intentionally walked Belle to bring up Murray, who flied to right, advancing Baerga to third. Thome then singled up the middle to score Baerga, and Ramirez followed with another run-scoring single.
Maddux threw a two-hit complete game in Saturday's opener, masterfully moving the ball around the plate and recording 19 ground ball outs. But he was not the same Thursday.
"His command wasn't quite as good as it has been," Cox said. "He didn't quite make all the pitches he wanted to tonight, I don't think."