April 15, 1976: Mets Come Back for Win Over Cubs

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Date: April 15, 1976
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 10
Cubs: 8
Winning pitcher: Skip Lockwood
Key player(s): Dave Kingman, Ed Kranepool, John Stearns
Key play: Kingman’s two homers, Kranepool’s single, Stearns’ single

The Mets faced the Cubs on a Thursday afternoon in Chicago. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. The Mets came back from a five-run deficit and emerged with a 10-8 win.

After a scoreless first inning, John Milner drew a walk against Cubs’ starter Bill Bonham to lead off the top of the second. Del Unser grounded out to second baseman Manny Trillo and a two-run homer by Dave Kingman ensued. Ron Hodges walked and Bonham threw called third strikes past both Bud Harrelson and Jon Matlack to end the inning. Consecutive singles by Jerry Morales and Andre Thornton opened the bottom half. Trillo hit a double play ground ball to third baseman Wayne Garrett and a double by Steve Swisher scored Morales. Dave Rosello followed with a home run to put the Cubs ahead, 3-2. Mets’ starter Matlack then retired Bonham on a grounder to Garrett to finish off the inning.

Bonham pitched a perfect top of the third. Rick Monday got a bunt single to begin the bottom half. Jose Cardenal popped out to second baseman Felix Millan and walks to Bill Madlock and Morales loaded the bases. Thornton singled to drive home both Monday and Madlock and a single by Trillo plated Morales. On Trillo’s hit, Thornton moved to third base via an error by Millan. Trillo stole second and Swisher’s sacrifice fly scored Thornton for a 7-2 Chicago lead. Matlack then issued an intentional walk to Rosello and got Bonham on a fly ball to center fielder Unser that ended the inning.

Milner singled to open the top of the fourth. Unser popped out to Trillo and a strikeout of Kingman followed. Hodges drew a walk and a wild pitch sent the runners to second and third base. Harrelson walked to load the bases and pinch-hitter Joe Torre singled to bring home Milner. Bonham retired Garrett on an inning-ending pop-up to shortstop Rosello. Mets’ reliever Tom Hall then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Bonham and Chicago reliever Geoff Zahn combined for a scoreless top of the fifth. Hall shut down the Cubs in the bottom of the inning and Harrelson hit a one-out double in the top of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Benny Ayala singled to drive home Harrelson and a single by Garrett ensued. Millan drew a walk against Chicago’s Paul Reuschel to load the bases. Ed Kranepool singled off Cubs’ reliever Darold Knowles to score Ayala and Garrett, cutting the Chicago lead to 7-6. Knowles got Milner to hit a grounder to Trillo for an inning-ending double play. Mets’ reliever Hank Webb then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Unser doubled to lead off the top of the seventh. Kingman fouled out to catcher Swisher and a single by John Stearns brought home Unser with the tying run. On his own hit, Stearns was out via a relay throw by third baseman Madlock to Trillo. Knowles threw a called third strike past Harrelson to close out the inning and Trillo walked against Webb with one out in the bottom half. Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood hit pinch-hitter Champ Summers with a pitch and walked Rosello to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Joe Wallis followed with a force play grounder to Millan that scored Trillo for an 8-7 Cubs lead. Lockwood then got Monday on a called third strike to end the inning.

Chicago reliever Tom Dettore set down the side in order in the top of the eighth. Lockwood pitched a perfect bottom half and Milner singled with one out in the top of the ninth. Unser got an infield single and Kingman slugged his second homer of the game (a blast estimated at more that 600 feet), putting the Mets ahead by two runs. Stearns was retired on a ground ball to Trillo. Dettore then got Lockwood to ground out to third baseman Mick Kelleher and finish off the inning.

Thornton grounded out to Garrett to open the bottom of the ninth. Trillo was retired on a grounder to shortstop Mike Phillips. Lockwood then got pinch-hitter Pete LaCock to ground out to Phillips and end the game. The Mets had a come-from-behind victory.