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Mo saved Yanks in Game 3 of '01 Classic

As Mariano Rivera prepares to retire, the closer's farewell tour has become a central subplot to the season. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader has been greeted warmly in each of his road stops, and the Yankees are planning a ceremony of their own to honor Rivera's illustrious career in September.

Rivera will be the last active player to regularly wear uniform No. 42, with the number having been retired throughout MLB in 1997 to honor the achievements of barrier-breaking great Jackie Robinson. During his 19-year big league career, Rivera has also chiseled his own mark on the number's legacy. In honor of Rivera and his contributions, is commemorating 42 notable moments from Rivera's career -- the 42 Days of Mo.

Mariano Rivera's postseason legacy was already part of his legend by Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, but the Yankees closer added yet another chapter on that October night in the Bronx.

Rivera tossed two perfect innings to preserve a 2-1 Yankees' win over the D-backs -- and avoid a 3-0 series deficit.

Rivera followed another all-time great, Roger Clemens, who himself turned in a sterling performance -- striking out nine over seven innings of one-run ball. The Yankees then gave the ball to Rivera in the eighth with the top of the D-backs' lineup due up.

And Rivera, as he almost always has, shut the door.

Rivera dominated, not allowing a ball out of the infield, against Arizona's top hitters. He struck out Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez in the eighth and Reggie Sanders and Erubiel Durazo in the ninth. Matt Williams grounded out to shortstop to end the night.

"It felt great to get back in there," Rivera said. "I was glad it worked out. I felt great. It's the World Series, you have to do whatever it takes to win. I'll do whatever they need me to do to win. We just have to win."

The Yankees, of course, did not end up winning the series, because of Gonzalez's game-winning knock off Rivera in Game 7. But the Yankees stretched the series to seven in large part because of Rivera, who pitched five scoreless innings in the 2001 Fall Classic before Game 7.

"I thought we had some good swings against him and some not-so-good swings," D-backs manager Bob Brenly said. "I mean, 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. Even though you know he's coming, he's still extremely tough to hit."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.
Read More: New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera