August 26, 1974: Three-Run Rally in 9th

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Date: August 26, 1974
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 5
Astros: 4
Winning pitcher: Jerry Koosman
Key player(s): Rusty Staub, Felix Millan, Ted Martinez
Key play: Mets’ three runs in 9th

The Mets faced the Astros on a Monday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a four-game series. The Mets scored three runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 5-4 win over Houston.

The Astros failed to score against Mets’ starter Jerry Koosman after loading the bases in the top of the first inning. Houston’s J. R. Richard pitched a scoreless bottom half and Koosman shut down the Astros in the top of the second. Wayne Garrett singled to open the bottom of the inning. Jim Gosger hit a ground ball to first baseman Lee May for a double play. Ron Hodges homered to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Richard then retired Koosman on a fly ball to left fielder Wilbur Howard for the third out.

In the top of the third inning, Roger Metzger hit a one-out double to left field. Cesar Cedeno lined out to third baseman Garrett and a single by May brought home Metzger. Cliff Johnson flied out to right fielder Rusty Staub to end the inning. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half. Garrett singled to score Felix Millan and regain the lead for New York. Richard then got Gosger on an inning-ending grounder to May.

Back-to-back singles by Doug Rader and Howard started the top of the fourth inning. Larry Milbourne fouled out to catcher Hodges and a bunt single by Richard ensued. On the play, Koosman made an error that allowed Rader to score and put runners at second and third base. Greg Gross’s sacrifice bunt plated Howard for a 3-2 Houston lead. Metzger grounded out to Garrett to end the inning. Richard then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Koosman and Richard each pitched scoreless ball in the fifth and sixth innings. In the top of the seventh, Gross hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Metzger. Cedeno singled to bring home Gross and increase the Astros’ lead to 4-2. Cedeno stole second and Koosman struck out May. Jerry followed up by retiring Johnson on a fly ball to Staub. The Mets were then set down in order by Richard in the bottom of the inning.

Howard singled with one out in the top of the eighth. Milbourne followed with a single to left field. Trying for third base on Milbourne’s hit, Howard was out on left fielder Ken Boswell’s throw to Garrett. Milbourne stole second and Koosman threw a called third strike past pinch-hitter Ray Busse. Astros’ reliever Mike Cosgrove retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Koosman then pitched a perfect top of the ninth.

Pinch-hitter Duffy Dyer got a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning. An ensuing pinch-hit double by Ted Martinez scored Dyer. On the play, Martinez advanced to third on an error by shortstop Metzger. Cosgrove walked Bud Harrelson and was replaced on the mound by Ken Forsch. Millan greeted the Houston reliever with a bunt single that drove in Martinez with the tying run. Boswell fouled out to third baseman Rader. Staub singled to left field, scoring Harrelson from second to end the game. The Mets had a dramatic series-opening victory.