Garcia pitches in to deny Yankees

The strength in depth of Seattle's pitching roster saw them through the first game of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night in New York. Freddy Garcia and three relief pitchers combined to shut out the New York Yankees with a 2-0 victory.

The strength in depth of Seattle's pitching roster saw them through the first game of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night in New York. Freddy Garcia and three relief pitchers combined to shut out the New York Yankees with a 2-0 victory.

Garcia, who turned 24 last week, allowed only three hits with two walks, as well as striking out eight batters in just under seven innings, while the Seattle bullpen ensured that a 2-0 lead was sufficient against the defending World Series champions. "For a young pitcher to come in here and start the play-off for us like Garcia did, he should be very proud of his effort tonight," said the Seattle manager, Lou Piniella.

Rickey Henderson delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning and Seattle's highly rated shortstop Alex Rodriguez hit a solo home run off New York's starter Denny Neagle in the sixth inning for the game's only runs.

Garcia left the game after throwing 103 pitches, but Seattle's bullpen was just as impressive. Jose Paniagua struck out three of the four batters he faced and Arthur Rhodes disposed of the pinch-hitter Glenallen Hill to end the eighth.

The only time the Yankees threatened was in the bottom of the ninth inning against Seattle's closing pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki before he shut the door. Japan's all-time leader in saves surrendered a lead-off single to Bernie Williams, and, after David Justice struck out, Tino Martinez singled up the middle to put the tying run on base, giving New York some hope. But Sasaki got rid of the Yankees catcher, Jorge Posada, followed by Luis Sojo to end the game.

The Yankees manager, Joe Torre, had gambled by starting Neagle, who had been beaten in his last three regular-season starts and did not pitch in the Division Series against Oakland. But Neagle gave Torre just under six solid innings, allowing the two runs and just three hits. It was the Yankees offence that had let them down.

New York, going for their fourth World Series title in five years, will have their chance to get even in the second of the seven-game series in the early hours of this morning.

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