August 23, 1999: Franco's Single in 9th Beats Astros

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Date: August 23, 1999
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 3
Astros: 2
Winning pitcher: Armando Benitez
Key player(s): Edgardo Alfonzo, Roger Cedeno, Darryl Hamilton, Matt Franco
Key play: Alfonzo’s home run, Cedeno’s sacrifice fly, Franco’s single

The Mets faced the Astros on a Monday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Matt Franco hit a run-scoring single in the ninth inning for a 3-2 Mets win over Houston.

Mets’ starter Al Leiter gave up only a double to Craig Biggio in the top of the first. With one out in the bottom half, Edgardo Alfonzo homered against the Astros’ Scott Elarton for the first run of the game. John Olerud drew a walk and Mike Piazza singled to left field. Robin Ventura was retired on a fly ball to left fielder Lance Berkman. Elarton then got Darryl Hamilton to ground out to first baseman Jeff Bagwell and finish off the inning.

After scoreless second and third innings, Leiter struck out both Berkman and Bagwell to begin the top of the fourth. Ken Caminiti drew a walk and Carl Everett flied out to left fielder Rickey Henderson to end the inning. Ventura got a leadoff single in the bottom half. Robin advanced to third base on a double by Hamilton. A sacrifice fly by Roger Cedeno scored Ventura with the Mets’ second run and moved Hamilton to third. Rey Ordonez followed with a ground ball on which Elarton threw to catcher Tony Eusebio for an out at home on Hamilton. Elarton then fanned Leiter to close out the inning.

Leading off the top of the fifth, Matt Mieske homered to cut the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Leiter set down the next three Houston batters and Elarton pitched a perfect bottom half. Berkman hit a one-out single in the top of the sixth. Bagwell grounded out to shortstop Ordonez to send Berkman to second base. A wild pitch moved Berkman to third before Leiter retired Caminiti on an inning-ending pop-up to first baseman Olerud. Elarton then held the Mets to a single by Ventura in the bottom half.

In the top of the seventh, Everett hit a leadoff home run to tie the game at 2-2. Mieske popped out to Olerud and a single by Eusebio ensued. Tim Bogar singled and Elarton’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third base. Biggio was walked intentionally to load the bases and Leiter got Berkman on a grounder to third baseman Ventura that ended the inning. Elarton then retired the Mets in order in the bottom half.

Mets’ reliever Turk Wendell yielded just a single to Bagwell in the top of the eighth. Elarton pitched a perfect bottom of the inning and pinch-hitter Daryle Ward singled against Wendell with two outs in the top of the ninth. Biggio hit a single to advance pinch-runner Glen Barker to third base. New York’s Armando Benitez then struck out Berkman to end the inning.

Hamilton hit a one-out double against Astros’ reliever Jay Powell in the bottom of the ninth. Cedeno was retired on a fly ball to left fielder Mieske, after which Hamilton moved to third base. Ordonez was given an intentional walk and Franco came up to pinch-hit for Benitez. Matt delivered a single to drive home Hamilton and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory to start the series.