April 3, 2001: Ventura's Homers Win Opener

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Date: April 3, 2001
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 6
Braves: 4
Winning pitcher: Dennis Cook
Key player(s): Robin Ventura
Key play: Ventura's home runs

To begin defense of their National League Championship, the Mets faced the Braves in Atlanta. Al Leiter got the Opening Day start for New York against Tom Glavine. A pair of home runs by Robin Ventura lifted the Mets to a 6-4 win in 10 innings.

Both teams scored in the first inning of the game. Edgardo Alfonzo doubled and Mike Piazza hit a home run off Glavine to give the Mets a quick two-run lead. The Braves responded in the bottom half on a single by Chipper Jones on which Rafael Furcal came home from second base. Leiter then got Brian Jordan to ground into a double play to end the inning with the Mets on top, 2-1.

From the second inning to the sixth, Leiter and Glavine engaged in a scoreless duel. Al allowed only two hits to the Braves and retired his last nine batters over the five inning stretch. Glavine held the Mets in check, facing the minimum fifteen batters over the same period with no hits. In the seventh, the Mets loaded the bases against Glavine before Leiter grounded out to end the inning.

Javy Lopez homered off Leiter in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game for Atlanta. In the eighth, Benny Agbayani drew a leadoff walk and Alfonzo flied out. Glavine was then relieved by John Rocker, who surrendered a home run to Ventura that gave the Mets a 4-2 lead. The Braves retied the game in the bottom half on Furcal's run-scoring double off John Franco and Jordan's single off Turk Wendell that scored Furcal.

After a scoreless ninth inning, Kerry Ligtenberg took the mound for the Braves in the tenth. Tsuyoshi Shinjo, in his first major league at bat, singled with one out. After Ligtenberg retired Alfonzo, Ventura came up an slugged his second home run of the game to put the Mets back in front. Armando Benitez, in relief of Dennis Cook, then retired Atlanta in order to end the game. The Mets had begun defense of their title with a victory.