August 27, 1973: Rusty and Tug Slay Padres

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Date: August 27, 1973
Mets starter: George Stone
Mets: 6
Padres: 5
Winning pitcher: George Stone
Key player(s): Rusty Staub, Don Hahn, Tug McGraw
Key play: Staub’s grand slam

The Mets faced the Padres on a Monday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Rusty Staub hit a grand slam and Tug McGraw provided clutch relief with four strikeouts for a 6-5 Mets win over San Diego.

After a scoreless first inning, Mets’ starter George Stone retired Nate Colbert and Cito Gaston on consecutive foul pop-ups to first baseman Ed Kranepool to begin the top of the second. Fred Kendall hit a home run for a 1-0 Padres lead. Dave Winfield singled and Enzo Hernandez followed with a force play ground ball to shortstop Bud Harrelson to end the inning. San Diego’s Steve Arlin then yielded only a single to Don Hahn in the bottom half.

Stone retired the side in order in the top of the third. Arlin hurled a perfect bottom of the inning and Gaston slugged a solo home run with two outs in the top of the third. Kendall was retired on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Cleon Jones, who got a one-out single in the bottom half. Kranepool flied out to left fielder Winfield and a walk to Jerry Grote ensued. Hahn singled to drive home Jones and cut the Padres’ lead to 2-1. Arlin then struck out Harrelson to finish off the inning.

Stone gave up just a single to Hernandez in the top of the fifth. George reached on catcher Kendall’s interference to lead off the bottom half. Wayne Garrett drew a walk and Felix Millan got a bunt single to load the bases. Staub followed with a grand slam that put the Mets ahead, 5-2. Jones grounded out to shortstop Derrel Thomas, who caught an ensuing pop-up by Kranepool. Grote singled and advanced to third base on a single by Hahn. Arlin then fanned Harrelson for the inning’s final out.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Dave Roberts hit the Padres’ third solo homer of the game. Colbert and Gaston hit back-to-back singles and Kendall grounded to third baseman Garrett for an inning-ending double play. Arlin shut down the Mets in the bottom half and Stone retired all three San Diego batters in the top of the seventh. Kranepool singled against Arlin to open the bottom of the inning. Ed moved to second base on Grote’s sacrifice bunt and Hahn got an infield single for his fourth hit of the game. Harrelson singled against Padres’ reliever Mike Caldwell to score Kranepool for a 6-3 Mets lead. Caldwell then got pinch-hitter Jim Beauchamp on a ground ball to Thomas for a double play that closed out the inning.

Jerry Morales drew a walk against Mets’ reliever Harry Parker to begin the top of the eighth. Thomas flied out to Jones and a single by Roberts ensued. Colbert doubled to drive home Morales and Roberts (reducing the Mets’ lead to one run) and advanced to third base on a throw. McGraw came in to pitch for the Mets and threw a called third strike past Gaston. Tug retired Kendall on a grounder to Garrett for the third out of the inning. Caldwell then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Winfield took a called third strike to open the top of the ninth. Rich Morales also went down on strikes. McGraw then fanned pinch-hitter Ivan Murrell for the game’s final out. The Mets had a hard-earned victory to start the series.