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It took a little more than tour hours to decide, but when the first game of the 1977 World Series came to a close, the Yankees went home winners over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3. Paul Blair, the hero of the Yankees' thrilling victory over the Kansas City Royals just three nights ago, did it again as he knocked in Willie Randolph with a ground single to left field.
Yanks in Four
Randolph, a two-time All-Star in as many seasons, was easily the Yankees' most valuable player--for its was the 23-year-old out of the Pirate organization who smacked a home run into the left field seats in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
This game offered everything baseball can: solid pitching, good batting, fine fielding and just a dash of excitement. Only Rick Rhoden, the Dodgers' fifth pitcher of the night, never did anything right. Rhoden faced just three men in the 12th inning, retired none and was saddled with the loss.
The Yankees benefited greatly from a surprisingly strong performance by Don Gullett, one of George Steinbrenner's more lucrative-check-cashers. Gullett went eight and one-third innings before yielding to ex-Red Sox (yes sir, we certainly remember) hurler, Sparky Lyle. Lyle, who won two of the three games the Yankees stole from the Royals, notched his third 1977 post-season win.
The Dodgers (yes Virginia, they played too) benefited from another exceptional performance from mild-mannered Don Sutton. Sutton, who is undefeated in post-season play, went seven strong innings before yielding to Lance Rautzhan. Rautzhan, who contrary to popular belief does not sell Oriental rugs in the off-season, was only around long enough to keep the Yankees' ninth-inning lead to a single run.
Los Angeles scrambled back to tie the game in the ninth inning on Lee Lacy's pinch-hit single, the blow that scored Dusty Baker and sent the tilt into extra frames.
The Yanks and Dodgers continue their "Red-Eye" Series tonight at eight o'clock. Burt Hooton will chuck for the Bums while Catfish Hunter will take the bill for the Bombers.
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