April 24, 1966: Mets Defeat Braves for DH Split

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Date: April 24, 1966
Mets starter: Tug McGraw
Mets: 4
Braves: 3
Winning pitcher: Tug McGraw
Key player(s): Tug McGraw, Ron Hunt, Ken Boyer
Key play: Hunt’s RBI single, Boyer’s sacrifice fly

The Mets faced the Braves in a doubleheader on a Sunday afternoon. After losing the opener, the Mets looked for a split in the second game of the twinbill. Tug McGraw pitched seven innings as the Mets recorded their first win ever in the city of Atlanta with a 4-3 triumph.

After two scoreless innings, Ron Hunt singled against Braves’ starter Denny Lemaster to lead off the top of the third. Roy McMillan flied out to center fielder Felipe Alou and a single by Ken Boyer ensued. Jim Hickman went down on strikes and Cleon Jones singled to drive home Hunt for the game’s first run. Ron Swoboda hit a force play ground ball to third baseman Eddie Mathews to close out the inning and Alou homered with one out in the bottom half to tie the game. McGraw then got Rico Carty on a line drive to center fielder Jones and struck out Hank Aaron to end the inning.

Jerry Grote hit a one-out double in the top of the fourth. McGraw flied out to right fielder Aaron and a single by Hunt brought home Grote for a 2-1 Mets lead. LeMaster was replaced on the mound by Atlanta reliever Clay Carroll, who retired McMillan on an inning-ending foul pop-up to first baseman Lee Thomas. To begin the bottom half, Joe Torre singled and Thomas was called out on strikes. Denis Menke drew a walk and Mathews hit a force play grounder to shortstop McMillan. McGraw then got Woody Woodward to fly out to right fielder Hickman and finish off the inning.

McGraw and Carroll each pitched perfect fifth and sixth innings. Tug drew a walk to open the top of the seventh. Hunt took a called third strike and McMillan followed with a single. On the hit, Mathews made an error that allowed McGraw to score and McMillan to reach third base. Roy came home on Boyer’s sacrifice fly to increase the Mets’ lead to 4-1. Carroll got Hickman on a ground ball to Mathews that ended the inning and Menke homered to lead off the bottom half. McGraw retired Mathews and Woodward on consecutive infield grounders. Tug then got pinch-hitter Mike de la Hoz to pop out to McMillan and end the inning.

Braves’ reliever Phil Niekro pitched a scoreless top of the eighth. Leading off the bottom half against the Mets’ Larry Bearnarth, Alou hit his second home run of the game. Carty lined out to second baseman Hunt and a foul pop-up by Aaron was caught by first baseman Ed Kranepool. Bearnarth retired Torre on a fly ball to Hickman for the third out of the inning. Niekro then set down the Mets in order in the top of the ninth.

Mets’ reliever Gordon Richardson got Thomas to line out to Kranepool to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Menke went down on strikes and Mathews singled to center field. Richardson then got pinch-hitter Gene Oliver on a force play ground ball to McMillan to end the game. The Mets had their first victory in Atlanta for a split of the doubleheader.