April 14, 2000: Mora and Piazza Come Through in 12th

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Date: April 14, 2000
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 8
Pirates: 5
Winning pitcher: John Franco
Key player(s): Melvin Mora, Mike Piazza
Key play: Mora’s single, Piazza’s home run in 12th

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Friday night in Pittsburgh. The teams went into extra innings to begin a three-game series. In the 12th, Melvin Mora and Mike Piazza combined to drive in four runs as the Mets defeated the Bucs, 8-5.

Following a scoreless first inning, Pirates’ starter Jason Schmidt shut down the Mets again in the top of the second. Wil Cordero hit a home run off Mets’ starter Al Leiter to begin the bottom half. Leiter retired the next three Pittsburgh batters and went down on strikes leading off the top of the third. Rickey Henderson followed with a single and advanced to third base on a single by Derek Bell. Edgardo Alfonzo hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Henderson with the tying run. Piazza drew a walk and Schmidt got Robin Ventura on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Cordero. Leiter then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Todd Zeile led off the top of the fourth with a single to left field. Jon Nunnally took a called third strike and Rey Ordonez got a single when his grounder hit Zeile for the second out of the inning. Schmidt walked Leiter and retired Henderson on a line drive to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. With one out in the bottom half, Kevin Young doubled and Cordero drew a walk. Leiter got Warren Morris to line out to left fielder Henderson and walked Ramirez to load the bases. Al then struck out Chad Hermansen to end the inning.

Alfonzo hit a one-out triple in the top of the fifth. An ensuing double by Piazza scored Alfonzo to put the Mets ahead, 2-1. Ventura grounded out to first baseman Young and a walk to Zeile followed. Nunnally flied out to right fielder Brian Giles to end the inning. With one out in the bottom half, Jason Kendall singled and Pat Meares went down on strikes. Giles reached on an error by Henderson that allowed Kendall to score and tie the game. Young hit a ground ball to third baseman Ventura for the final out of the inning and Schmidt pitched a scoreless top of the sixth. Leiter then set down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Mets took a 4-2 lead on Piazza’s and Ventura’s back-to-back homers with one out. Zeile hit a double and Nunnally went down on strikes. Schmidt issued an intentional walk to Ordonez and threw a called third strike past Leiter to end the inning. Al shut down the Bucs in the bottom half and Pittsburgh reliever Marc Wilkins pitched a scoreless top of the eighth. Young homered with one out in the bottom half. Leiter struck out Cordero and gave up a double to Morris. Mets’ reliever Turk Wendell retired pinch-hitter John Vander Wal on an inning-ending grounder to first baseman Zeile. The Pirates’ Scott Sauerbeck then hurled a scoreless top of the ninth.

Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez struck out pinch-hitters Bruce Aven and Adrian Brown to open the bottom of the ninth inning. Kendall followed with a double to left field. Meares hit a triple to drive home Kendall and tie the game at 4-4. Giles was given an intentional walk and Benitez fanned Young to close out the inning. To start the top of the 10th, Bucs’ reliever Mike Williams walked Ordonez and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Franco. Mora grounded out to third baseman Mike Benjamin to advance Ordonez to second. Bell hit a single on which center fielder Brown threw to catcher Kendall for an inning-ending out at home on Ordonez. Mets’ reliever John Franco then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

The Mets failed to score after loading the bases against Pittsburgh’s Jose Silva in the top of the 11th. John Franco shut down the Bucs in the bottom of the inning and Ordonez singled to open the top of the 12th. Pinch-hitter Benny Agbayani followed with a double to left field. Mora hit a single to score Ordonez and Agbayani, giving the Mets a 6-4 lead. Bell lined out to Young for an unassisted double play and Alfonzo drew a walk. Piazza hit his second homer of the game for two more New York runs. Silva then got Ventura on a fly ball to Cordero that ended the inning.

Mets’ reliever Dennis Cook walked Young to begin the bottom of the 12th. Cordero flied out to right fielder Bell and a wild pitch advanced Young to second base. Morris hit a single and Benjamin doubled to bring home Young for the Pirates’ fifth run. Cook threw a called third strike past Aven for the second out of the inning. Brown then flied out to center fielder Jay Payton to end the game. The Mets had an extra-inning victory to open the series.