April 22, 1998: Tatum Hits 3-Run Homer in 9th

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Date: April 22, 1998
Mets starter: Dave Mlicki
Mets: 10
Astros: 7
Winning pitcher: Dennis Cook
Key player(s): Rich Becker, Jim Tatum
Key play: Becker’s & Tatum’s home runs

The Mets faced the Astros on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams combined for 20 hits in a game that lasted three hours and 41 minutes. Jim Tatum’s three-run homer in the ninth inning gave the Mets a 10-7 victory.

Dave Mlicki and Houston starter John Halama each pitched scoreless ball over the first three innings. The Astros got three singles off Mlicki while the Mets were held hitless with two walks by Halama. A home run by Carl Everett in the top of the fourth put Houston ahead by a run. Halama then shut down the Mets with only a single by John Olerud in the bottom of the inning.

With one out in the top of the fifth, Craig Biggio reached base when first baseman Olerud mishandled his ground ball. Derek Bell followed with a home run to extend the Astros’ lead to 3-0. Mlicki retired Jeff Bagwell on a pop-up to second baseman Luis Lopez and hit Sean Berry with a pitch. Moises Alou drew a walk with pinch-runner Bill Spiers advancing to second base. Dave then got Everett on a fly ball to center fielder Brian McRae for the third out.

Alberto Castillo singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Rey Ordonez hit a double to score Castillo. Pinch-hitting for Mlicki, Carlos Baerga flied out to center fielder Everett to drive home Ordonez. Edgardo Alfonzo struck out and the Mets loaded the bases on two hits and a walk. Halama then got Butch Huskey on a fly ball to Everett for the final out of the inning.

Mets’ reliever Turk Wendell set down Houston in order in the top of the sixth. Against the Astros’ Bob Scanlan, McRae drew a walk and Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice to open the bottom half. Ordonez advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt and Matt Franco came up to pinch-hit for Wendell. Scanlan was then lifted for left-handed reliever C. J. Nitkowski.

Nitkowski walked Franco to load the bases with one out. Alfonzo hit a force play grounder that scored McRae with the tying run. An ensuing triple by Lopez plated Castillo and Alfonzo for a 5-3 Mets lead. Bernard Gilkey’s infield single brought home Lopez with another New York run. With Olerud at bat, Gilkey was thrown out by Astros’ catcher Brad Ausmus on an attempted steal of second to end the inning.

Reliever Greg McMichael walked Biggio to begin the top of the seventh. Bell singled and Bagwell flied out to right fielder Huskey. A single by Spiers scored Biggio for the fourth Houston run. Alou walked to load the bases with one out. Mel Rojas then replaced McMichael on the mound for the Mets.

Everett greeted Rojas with a double that scored Bell and Spiers to tie the game at 6-6. Mel responded with a strikeout of Ricky Gutierrez. Rojas retired Ausmus on a line drive to Huskey for the third out of the inning. Nitkowski then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

Biggio singled with one out in the top of the eighth. Bell singled and Bagwell was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Houston. Dennis Cook relieved Rojas and retired Spiers on a fly ball to left fielder Gilkey. Biggio scored after the catch to put the Astros ahead, 7-6. Cook then struck out Alou to end the inning.

Houston’s Doug Henry retired Castillo on a ground ball to shortstop Gutierrez to open the bottom of the eighth. Ordonez popped up to second baseman Biggio for the second out. Rich Becker followed with a game-tying home run. Henry then got Alfonzo for an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Bell.

Cook shut down Houston without a hit in the top of the ninth inning. Lopez walked to lead off the bottom half. Henry retired Gilkey and issued a walk to Olerud. Huskey flied to Everett for the second out of the inning. Tatum then came up to pinch-hit for Cook.

Tatum hammered a pitch from Henry for a three-run homer to end the game. The Shea crowd cheered loudly as Jim circled the bases. The Mets had an exciting victory in walk-off fashion.