April 28, 1973: Three-Run 8th Foils Braves

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Date: April 28, 1973
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 4
Braves: 2
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Ed Kranepool, Jerry Grote
Key play: Kranepool’s and Grote’s singles in 8th

The Mets faced the Braves on a Saturday night in Atlanta. The teams played the second of three games in a series. The Mets scored three runs in the eighth inning for a 4-2 win.

After two scoreless innings, Ted Martinez got a one-out single against Braves’ starter Ron Reed in the top of the third. Felix Millan flied out to right fielder Hank Aaron and a single by Willie Mays advanced Martinez to third base. Rusty Staub doubled to score Martinez for a 1-0 Mets lead. Reed retired Ed Kranepool on a ground ball to second baseman Davey Johnson for the inning’s third out. Mets’ starter Jon Matlack then struck out the side in order in the bottom half.

Matlack and Reed each pitched scoreless ball from the fourth inning to the sixth. Bud Harrelson singled with one out in the top of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt by Matlack sent Harrelson to second base. Martinez hit a single on which left fielder Ralph Garr threw to catcher Johnny Oates for an out at home on Harrelson that ended the inning. Leading off the bottom half, Johnson homered to tie the game. Darrell Evans drew a walk and Oscar Brown flied out to right fielder Staub. Garr hit a single and Sonny Jackson singled to score Evans for a 2-1 Atlanta lead. Matlack then struck out Reed and retired Rod Gilbreath on a ground ball to third baseman Wayne Garrett to close out the inning.

Millan singled against Reed to begin the top of the seventh. Mays hit a double and Braves’ reliever Roric Harrison issued an intentional walk to Staub that loaded the bases. Kranepool hit a single to bring home Millan and Mays, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. Garrett drew a walk to reload the bases and Jerry Grote singled to plate Staub with the fourth New York run of the game. Harrelson went down on strikes and pinch-hitter Ken Boswell fouled out to third baseman Gilbreath. Harrison retired Martinez on an inning-ending grounder to shortstop Jackson. Mets’ reliever Tug McGraw then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Harrison set down the side in order in the top of the ninth. Evans lined out to left fielder Martinez to open the bottom of the inning. Brown hit a double and Garr was retired on a foul pop-up to first baseman Kranepool. McGraw then got pinch-hitter Dick Dietz to pop out to Kranepool and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a comeback victory.