April 23, 1996: Chris Jones Homers in 10th to Beat Reds

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Date: April 23, 1996
Mets starter: Bobby Jones
Mets: 8
Reds: 6
Winning pitcher: Doug Henry
Key player(s): Todd Hundley, Chris Jones
Key play: Hundley’s homer in 4th, Ruffin’s wild pitch, C. Jones’ homer in 10th

The Mets faced the Reds on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the latter half of an early-season two-game series. A home run by Chris Jones in the 10th inning gave the Mets an 8-6 win over Cincinnati.

Mets’ starter Bobby Jones retired the Reds in order in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Lance Johnson hit a leadoff triple against Cincinnati’s Kevin Jarvis. Jose Vizcaino drew a walk and a double play ground ball by Bernard Gilkey scored Johnson. Butch Huskey grounded out to shortstop Barry Larkin to end the inning. Bobby Jones then pitched a perfect top of the second and the Mets failed to score after loading the bases in the bottom of the inning.

Following a scoreless third, Jeff Branson led off the top of the fourth inning with a single to center field. Larkin reached third base on an error by shortstop Rey Ordonez that allowed Branson to score. Hal Morris struck out and a single by Eric Anthony brought home Larkin to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. Bret Boone hit a grounder to Ordonez for a double play that ended the inning. Huskey and Rico Brogna opened the bottom half with back-to-back singles. Todd Hundley hit a three-run homer to put the Mets ahead, 4-2. A single by Jeff Kent followed and Jarvis recorded outs on the next three Mets batters.

Bobby Jones and Jarvis each set down the side in order in the fifth inning. Branson doubled with one out in the top of the sixth. Larkin hit a single to advance Branson to third and Mets’ reliever Rob MacDonald walked Morris to load the bases. Reliever Jerry DiPoto walked pinch-hitter Eric Davis to force home Branson. Boone’s sacrifice fly plated Larkin with the tying run. A pinch-hit single by Lenny Harris scored Morris for a 5-4 Reds lead. Joe Oliver hit a fly ball to center fielder Johnson for the third out. Cincinnati reliever Johnny Ruffin then shut down the Mets in the bottom of the inning.

DiPoto held the Reds to a leadoff single by Ruffin in a scoreless top of the seventh. With one out in the bottom half, Johnson hit a triple (his second of the game) to center field. An ensuing double by Vizcaino brought home Johnson to tie the game. Gilkey was walked intentionally and Huskey struck out. Ruffin’s third strike to Brogna got past catcher Oliver. Vizcaino came around to score the go-ahead run and Rico reached first on the wild pitch. Hundley then hit an inning-ending line drive to first baseman Morris.

The Reds tied the game on Morris’s homer off Mets’ reliever Blas Minor in the top of the eighth. Cincinnati’s Marcus Moore retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Minor pitched a scoreless top of the ninth and Johnson singled to open the bottom half. Lance moved to second on Vizcaino’s sacrifice bunt and Gilkey was given an intentional walk. Pinch-hitter Kevin Roberson followed with walk that loaded the bases. Moore struck out Brogna and got Hundley on a fly ball to right fielder Harris for the third out. Mets’ reliever Doug Henry then pitched a perfect top of the 10th inning.

Reds’ reliever Jeff Shaw struck out Kent to begin the bottom of the 10th. Ordonez followed with a single to center field. Chris Jones hit a two-run homer to end the game. The Mets had an exciting victory for a sweep of the two-game series.