April 11, 1973: Mets Hold Off Cards Rally

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Date: April 11, 1973
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 5
Cardinals: 4
Winning pitcher: Jerry Koosman
Key player(s): Rusty Staub, Felix Millan, John Milner
Key play: Staub’s single, Milner’s home run, Millan’s triple

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis. The teams played a two-hour and twenty-three-minute game at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Mets held off a Redbirds comeback attempt and emerged with a 5-4 win.

Bud Harrelson got an infield single against St. Louis starter Reggie Cleveland to lead off the top of the first inning. Felix Millan singled and John Milner hit a single on which Harrelson was out at home via a relay throw by third baseman Ken Reitz to catcher Ted Simmons. On the play, Millan advanced to third base and Milner went to second. A wild pitch brought home Millan and moved Milner to third. Rusty Staub singled to score Milner for a two-run Mets lead. Cleveland struck out Cleon Jones and retired Jim Fregosi on a fly ball to left fielder Lou Brock to end the inning. Mets’ starter Jerry Koosman then gave up only a single to Brock in the bottom half.

Cleveland set down the Mets in order in the top of the second. Koosman pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning and Milner hit a solo home run with two outs in the top of the third. Staub flied out to right fielder Luis Melendez to finish off the inning and Jose Cruz tripled to open the bottom half. Ray Busse reached second base on third baseman Fregosi’s error that allowed Cruz to score and cut the Mets’ lead to 3-1. Cleveland followed with a ground ball on which Busse got caught in a rundown and was tagged out by shortstop Harrelson. Koosman then got Brock to hit a grounder to second baseman Millan for an inning-ending double play.

Cleveland hurled a scoreless top of the fourth. With two outs in the bottom half, Joe Torre singled and advanced to third base on a single by Simmons. Reitz hit a double to drive home Torre and a fly ball by Cruz was caught by center fielder Rich Chiles for the inning’s third out. Duffy Dyer singled to begin the top of the fifth. Dyer moved to second on Koosman’s sacrifice bunt and to third on Harrelson’s ground out to second baseman Ted Sizemore. Millan tripled to score Dyer with the Mets’ fourth run and Cleveland was replaced on the mound by Cardinals’ reliever John Andrews. With Milner at bat, Millan came home on Simmons’ passed ball for a 5-2 New York lead. Milner drew a walk and Andrews retired Staub on a foul pop-up to Reitz that closed out the inning. Koosman then set down all three batters in the bottom half.

St. Louis reliever Alan Foster pitched a perfect top of the sixth. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Melendez drew a walk and went to third base on a single by Torre. Simmons followed with a force play ground ball to Fregosi to bring home Melendez and reduce the Mets’ lead to 5-3. Reitz flied out to Chiles to end the inning and Foster struck out the side in a scoreless top of the seventh. Cruz doubled to lead off the bottom half. Busse went down on strikes and pinch-hitter Dwain Anderson grounded out to Koosman. Jerry then got Brock to ground out to Millan and finish off the inning.

Cards’ reliever Diego Segui hurled a perfect top of the eighth. Sizemore drew a walk against the Mets’ Tug McGraw to open the bottom half. Melendez was called out on strikes and Torre singled. Simmons hit a force play grounder to Harrelson and a fly ball by Reitz was caught by right fielder Staub to end the inning. Segui retired the Mets in order in the top of the ninth and Cruz singled against McGraw to begin the bottom half. Busse hit a force play ground ball to Millan and a walk to pinch-hitter Tim McCarver ensued. Brock also hit a force play grounder to Millan and a single by Sizemore plated Busse with the Redbirds’ fourth run. Mets’ reliever Phil Hennigan then retired pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo on a fly ball to Chiles for the final out of the game. The Mets had halted a St. Louis rally effort for their third straight victory to start the season.