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World Series 2001
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10/31/2001 12:23 PM ET
Rivera is Yankees' sure thing
By Mark Feinsand
MLB.com
Rivera is pumped after retiring Matt Williams to end Game 3.
Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Rivera shuts down D-Backs: 56k | 300k
More video highlights ...

NEW YORK -- Through the first two games of the World Series, the Diamondbacks had been successful at keeping the Yankees' lethal weapon off the playing field. Tuesday night, they weren't so lucky.

Mariano Rivera, the man with 23 consecutive postseason saves and a career playoff ERA of 0.72, finally got to pitch in the 2001 World Series. He made the most of his opportunity, retiring all six batters he faced, striking out four.

"It felt great to get back in there," Rivera said. "After not pitching in the first two games, I was getting a little impatient. I was glad that it worked out and I had the chance to pitch today."

Rivera, who has converted all five of his save opportunities this postseason, extended his own World Series record with his eighth career save. Amazingly enough, he has pitched more than one inning in seven of those eight saves.

"That was easy," said Rivera of throwing two innings. "I felt great, and you can't ask for anything more than to pitch in the World Series. When you have a shot to pitch in the World Series, you have to do whatever you have to do."

D-Backs third baseman Matt Williams, who grounded out to Derek Jeter to end the ballgame, said that facing Rivera is not something that will give batters much confidence in themselves.

"The ball jumps on you," said Williams. "That's something special, what he does with one pitch. He's been automatic."

Automatic is right. In the Yankees' storied history, they have lost just one out of 155 games when leading after eight innings. For New York, the sound of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" -- Rivera's personal theme song -- is the sweetest sound in the ballpark.

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"It's always nice to see him out on the mound," said Sterling Hitchcock. "Bottom line, he's the best in the business. It's fun to watch him at work out there."

For his opponents, Rivera's entrance usually spells the end of their night. Arizona manager Bob Brenly knew what was coming when he saw Rivera walk on the field to start the eighth inning, but there was little he could do about it.

"I thought we had some good swings against him and some not so good swings," Brenly said. "He comes exactly as advertised, no secrets, there's no tricks and you know what he's going to throw you.

"He's just one of the best in the business," added Brenly. "Even though you know he's coming, he's still extremely tough to hit."

Rivera, who sports an 0.77 ERA this postseason, said that even after going two innings on Tuesday, he'll be ready to do it again on Wednesday if that's what his team needs.

"I'll do whatever they need me to do to win. No matter what that is, I'll do it to help us win," Rivera said. "We play for one game at a time. We can't win four games at once, we have to go one-by-one."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com.