April 23, 2003: Single Runs Lead to Win

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Date: April 23, 2003
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 4
Astros: 2
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Raul Gonzalez, Ty Wigginton
Key play: Gonzalez’s home run. Wigginton’s single

The Mets faced the Astros on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the second of three games in a series. The Mets scored a run in each of the first three innings and came away with a 4-2 win over Houston.

Mets’ starter Al Leiter pitched a scoreless top of the first inning. Timo Perez drew a one-out walk against the Astros’ Roy Oswalt in the bottom half. Cliff Floyd hit a single and Mike Piazza walked to load the bases. Mo Vaughn grounded out to first baseman Jeff Bagwell to score Perez for a 1-0 Mets’ lead. Oswalt then struck out Ty Wigginton to end the inning.

Jeff Kent doubled to lead off the top of the second. Richard Hidalgo and Brad Ausmus both went down on strikes and Morgan Ensberg was given an intentional walk. Oswalt was retired on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Raul Gonzalez, who homered to lead off the bottom half. Rey Sanchez and Leiter were retired on infield ground balls and Roberto Alomar got an infield single. Oswalt then fanned Perez for the inning’s final out.

Leiter shut down the Astros in the top of the third inning. Floyd hit a double to begin the bottom half. Piazza popped out to second baseman Kent and a single by Vaughn ensued. Wigginton singled to score Floyd and increase the Mets’ lead to 3-0. Oswalt then struck out Gonzalez and got Sanchez on a force play grounder to shortstop Jose Vizcaino that closed out the inning.

After a scoreless fourth, Oswalt and Craig Biggio got back-to-back singles to open the top of the fifth. A sacrifice bunt by Vizcaino advanced the runners to second and third base. Bagwell singled to bring home Oswalt and Biggio, cutting the New York lead to 3-2. Lance Berkman was struck out and Leiter retired Kent on a fly ball to center fielder Perez to finish off the inning. Oswalt then surrendered only a walk to Vaughn in the bottom half.

Hidalgo walked to lead off the top of the sixth. Ausmus and Ensberg followed with consecutive force play ground balls and Oswalt got an infield single. Leiter struck out Biggio to end the inning and Oswalt shut down the Mets in the bottom half. New York reliever David Weathers hurled a scoreless top of the seventh. For Houston, reliever Bruce Chen pitched a perfect bottom of the inning.

Weathers retired the side in order in the top of the eighth. Astros’ reliever Octavio Dotel hit Vaughn with a pitch to begin the bottom half. Wigginton drew a walk and Gonzalez singled to load the bases. Sanchez hit a ground ball on which Vizcaino threw to catcher Ausmus for an out at home on pinch-runner Roger Cedeno. Pinch-hitter Jay Bell hit a sacrifice fly that plated Wigginton with the Mets’ fourth run. Alomar then grounded back to Dotel for the third out of the inning.

To start the top of the ninth, Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez retired pinch-hitter Geoff Blum on a fly ball to left fielder Perez (who had shifted from center.) Pinch-hitter Orlando Merced doubled and Biggio grounded out to shortstop Sanchez. Benitez then struck out Vizcaino to end the game. The Mets had a victory.