April 17, 1988: Elster's Single in 9th Sweeps Cards

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Date: April 17, 1988
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 3
Cardinals: 2
Winning pitcher: Roger McDowell
Key player(s): Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds, Kevin Elster
Key play: Mets’ singles in 8th and 9th

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. Kevin Elster hit a run-scoring single in the ninth inning for a 3-2 Mets win and a series sweep over St. Louis.

Ron Darling and the Cards’ Jose DeLeon each pitched two-hit scoreless ball from the first inning to the third. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Terry Pendleton and Jim Lindeman hit back-to-back home runs for a 2-0 Redbirds lead. Tony Pena took a called third strike to end the inning and DeLeon set down the Mets in order in the bottom half. Darling hurled a perfect top of the fifth and hit a one-out double in the bottom of the inning. Lenny Dykstra was retired on a fly ball to left fielder Vince Coleman. DeLeon then got Wally Backman to fly out to Coleman and finish off the inning.

Darling and DeLeon each hurled scoreless sixth and seventh innings. Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell gave up only a single to Tommy Herr in the top of the eighth. To begin the bottom half, Backman drew a walk against DeLeon and advanced to third base on a single by Keith Hernandez. Darryl Strawberry singled to score Backman and move pinch-runner Elster to third. Kevin McReynolds hit a single off St. Louis’s Todd Worrell to drive home Elster with the tying run. On McReynolds’ hit, Strawberry was out via a throw by Coleman to third baseman Pendleton. Gary Carter fouled out to catcher Pena and an intentional walk to Howard Johnson followed. Worrell then struck out Dave Magadan to end the inning.

McDowell pitched a perfect top of the ninth. Leading off the bottom half, Mookie Wilson got a single and advanced to second base on an error by Cardinals’ reliever Steve Peters. Wilson moved to third on pinch-hitter Barry Lyons’ sacrifice bunt. St. Louis’s Scott Terry retired pinch-hitter Tim Teufel on a line drive to Pendleton. Elster came to bat and delivered a single that scored Wilson and ended the game. The Mets had a victory and a sweep of the three-game series.