April 15, 2004: Leiter Leads Shutout of Braves
|Date: April 15, 2004|
|Mets starter: Al Leiter|
|Winning pitcher: Al Leiter|
|Key player(s): Al Leiter, Shane Spencer|
|Key play: Spencer's single in 3rd, Braves' double plays in 6th and 7th|
The Mets and Braves faced each other on a Thursday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. Al Leiter and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout in a 4-0 Mets win over Atlanta.
Leiter retired the side in order in the top of the first inning. Leading off the bottom half, Kazuo Matsui drew a walk. Matsui advanced to third base on a double by Ricky Gutierrez and scored the game's first run on Shane Spencer's ground out to second baseman Marcus Giles. Mike Piazza hit a ground ball on which third baseman Mark DeRosa threw to catcher Eddie Perez for an out at home on Gutierrez. Braves' starter Horacio Ramirez then struck out Jason Phillips to end the inning.
Following a scoreless second, Leiter gave up just a walk to DeRosa in the top of the third. Al drew a walk to begin the bottom half and Matsui hit a force play grounder to DeRosa. Gutierrez grounded back to Ramirez and a single by Spencer plated Matsui for a 2-0 Mets lead. Ramirez then retired Piazza on a grounder to DeRosa that closed out the inning.
Leiter and Ramirez each hurled a scoreless and hitless fourth. To open the top of the fifth, Eli Marrero singled for the first Atlanta hit of the game. Perez went down on strikes and Jesse Garcia bunted back to Leiter for a force play. Ramirez was retired on a ground ball back to Leiter to end the inning and shut down the Mets in the bottom half. DeRosa and Giles got back-to-back singles to begin the top of the sixth and Chipper Jones flied out to left fielder Joe McEwing. Leiter was replaced on the mound by Mets' reliever David Weathers, who issued a walk to Andruw Jones that loaded the bases. Weathers followed by by getting Julio Franco to hit a grounder to second baseman Gutierrez for an inning-ending double play. Ramirez then pitched a scoreless bottom half.
Perez hit a one-out single in the top of the seventh. Weathers got Garcia on a double play ground ball to shortstop Matsui that closed out the inning and McEwing singled to open the bottom half. Jeff Duncan followed with a force play bunt back to Ramirez and moved to second base on pinch-hitter Todd Zeile's ground out to Giles. Ramirez issued an intentional walk to Matsui and retired Gutierrez on a fly ball to left fielder Chipper Jones to end the inning. Mets' reliever Orber Moreno then set down the side 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth.
Atlanta's Antonio Alfonseca walked Spencer to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. Piazza followed with a single to advance Spencer to third base. Phillips hit a grounder on which Giles threw to Perez for an out at home on Spencer and a pop-up by Ty Wigginton was caught by first baseman Franco. Pinch-hitter Karim Garcia singled against the Braves' C. J. Nitkowski to drive home pinch-runner Vance Wilson. Duncan followed with a single to score Phillips with the Mets' fourth run. Nitkowski then got pinch-hitter Mike Cameron on a force play grounder to shortstop Garcia that finished off the inning.
Mets' reliever Braden Looper fanned Chipper Jones to start the top of the ninth. Andruw Jones was retired on a fly ball to center fielder Duncan. Looper then struck out Franco to end the game. The Mets had a shutout comprised of a quartet of pitchers.