April 12, 1981: Cubbage's Sacrifice Fly Beats Cubs

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Date: April 12, 1981
Mets starter: Tim Leary
Mets: 2
Cubs: 1
Winning pitcher: Neil Allen
Key player(s): Hubie Brooks, Mike Cubbage
Key play: Brooks' triple and Cubbage's sacrifice fly

The Mets and Cubs completed a three-game series at Wrigley Field on a Sunday afternoon. The game featured the major league pitching debut of Mets' starter Tim Leary on a cool Chicago day. Leary left with an injury after two innings, but the Mets emerged with a 2-1 win on Mike Cubbage's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Leary struck out three Cub batters and walked only one in his two shutout innings. However, he suffered a strain of his right elbow and had to be removed from the game. In relief, Pete Falcone pitched five scoreless innings with three hits allowed and six strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Mets were held to one hit (a single by Hubie Brooks) over the first five innings by Chicago starter Ken Kravec. Cubs' reliever Lee Smith then pitched two innings of two-hit shutout ball.

Smith retired the first two Met batters in the top of the eighth inning. Lee Mazzilli followed with a walk and stole second base. A single by Dave Kingman scored Mazzilli to put the Mets ahead, 1-0. Chicago's Doug Capilla retired Joel Youngblood for the final out of the inning.

Jeff Reardon came in to pitch for the Mets in the bottom of the eighth inning. After walking the first two batters, Reardon was replaced by Neil Allen. A sacrifice bunt by Ivan DeJesus advanced the runners to second and third base before Allen walked pinch-hitter Jim Tracy to load the bases. Bill Buckner fouled out to third baseman Brooks and a walk to Steve Henderson brought home Tim Blackwell from third to tie the game. Allen then retired Leon Durham on a pop-up to shortstop Frank Taveras to end the inning.

Brooks began the top of the ninth inning with a triple off Cubs' reliever Rawly Eastwick. Alex Trevino lined out to first baseman Buckner. Pinch-hitting for Doug Flynn, Cubbage hit a fly ball to center fielder Jerry Morales on which Brooks came home to give the Mets a one-run lead. Eastwick then fanned Mike Jorgensen for the final out of the inning.

Allen pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning to end the game. The Mets had their second win of the season-opening series. It was a bittersweet victory as Leary's injury kept him out of the major leagues for nearly three seasons.