April 19, 1976: Unser's Homer Wins It in 17th Inning

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Date: April 19, 1976
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 4
Cardinals: 3
Winning pitcher: Bob Apodaca
Key player(s): Del Unser, Skip Lockwood, Bob Apodaca
Key play: Unser's home run in 17th

The Mets and Cardinals met for a nationally televised game on a Monday night in St. Louis. Following a rain delay, the teams battled for 4 hours and 46 minutes and finished at 1:35AM Eastern Time. Del Unser's home run in the top of the 17th inning gave the Mets a 4-3 win.

The Cardinals got off to a quick start. Facing Tom Seaver, Reggie Smith connected for a double to bring home Bake McBride and Ted Simmons. It was a 2-0 lead for St. Louis.

The Mets came up with three runs in the top of the second inning. Against Cardinals' starter Pete Falcone, Jerry Grote scored on an error by first baseman Keith Hernandez on Unser's ground ball. Del later scored on Felix Millan's sacrifice fly to tie the game. The Mets then took the lead on John Milner's single that brought home Seaver.

In the seventh, the Cards tied the game. Vic Harris hit a double off Seaver and Ron Fairly hit another double to score Harris. The game remained even as the teams headed to extra innings.

Skip Lockwood had come on to pitch in relief of Seaver. Skip did a masterful job, holding the Cardinals scoreless and hitless from the ninth to the twelfth innings. Ken Sanders then took the mound and contributed two scoreless innings of his own.

When the fifteenth inning approached, the Mets had run out of available reserve players. Manager Joe Frazier (not the boxer) called on relief pitcher Bob Apodaca to pinch hit for Sanders. Apodaca grounded out and then took over the pitching chores.

Finally, the Mets broke through in the seventeenth. Unser came up with two out and nailed reliever Mike Wallace's pitch for a home run to put the Mets ahead. Wayne Garrett and Apodaca then got singles and Wallace was removed. Danny Frisella came on to get the final out.

The Cardinals went down quietly in the bottom of the inning as Apodaca retired them in order. The Mets had a victory on Monday Night Baseball that lasted until Tuesday morning.