August 5, 1976: Seventeen Hits Lift Mets Over Bucs

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Date: August 5, 1976
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 7
Pirates: 4
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Leo Foster, Jon Matlack, Joe Torre, Skip Lockwood
Key play: Foster’s two-run double, Torre’s RBI singles

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Thursday night in Pittsburgh. The teams played the opener of a four-game series at Three Rivers Stadium. The Mets collected a total of seventeen hits in a 7-4 win over the Bucs.

Pepe Mangual singled against Pirates’ starter Jerry Reuss to lead off the top of the first inning. Leo Foster went down on strikes and Mike Vail grounded back to Reuss to advance Mangual to second base. Pepe stole third and scored on an ensuing single by Joe Torre. Reuss got John Milner on a force play ground ball to first baseman Willie Stargell to end the inning. Mets’ starter Jon Matlack then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

The Mets failed to score despite singles by Bud Harrelson and Matlack in the top of the second inning. Jon pitched a perfect bottom half and Reuss held the Mets to a single by Vail in the top of the third. Matlack retired the Bucs in order in the bottom of the inning and Roy Staiger got a one-out single in the top of the fourth. Harrelson hit a single to center field and Matlack singled to drive home Staiger. Mangual went down on strikes and a double by Foster scored Harrelson and Matlack. Reuss issued a walk to Vail and Pittsburgh reliever Bob Moose yielded a single to Torre that plated Foster for a 5-0 Mets lead. Moose retired Milner on an inning-ending line drive to center fielder Bill Robinson. Matlack then shut down the Pirates in the bottom half.

Jerry Grote singled to open the top of the fifth inning. Ensuing singles by Staiger and Harrelson loaded the bases. Matlack hit a grounder to second baseman Rennie Stennett for a double play on which Grote came home. Mangual grounded out to third baseman Tommy Helms to end the inning and Matlack set down all three Pittsburgh batters in the bottom half. To begin the top of the sixth, Foster drew a walk. Vail was struck out and Torre singled to right field. Milner drew a walk that loaded the bases. Moose then got Grote to hit a ground ball to Stennett for an inning-ending double play.

Mario Mendoza got a bunt single to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Ed Kirkpatrick hit a force play ground ball to second baseman Foster and single by Stennett followed. Helms popped out to Foster and a walk to Dave Parker loaded the bases. Stargell connected for a grand slam that reduced the Mets’ lead to 6-4. Matlack then retired Richie Zisk on a grounder to third baseman Staiger to close out the inning.

Staiger led off the top of the seventh with a home run against Pirates’ reliever Kent Tekulve. Harrelson drew a walk and advanced to second base on Matlack’s sacrifice bunt. Tekulve retired Mangual on a fly ball to left fielder Zisk and got Foster on an inning-ending ground ball to Helms. Matlack limited the Bucs to a single by Duffy Dyer in the bottom of the inning and Vail singled against Pittsburgh’s Dave Giusti to open the top of the eighth. Giusti set down the next three New York hitters and Matlack gave up a single to Stennett to begin the bottom half. Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood then retired three straight Pirates batters to finish off the inning.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Harrelson got his fourth single for the Mets’ seventeenth hit of the game. Lockwood reached on a fielder’s choice bunt with Bud moving to second base. On Giusti’s third strike to Mangual, Lockwood was caught stealing via a throw by catcher Dyer to Stennett to complete a double play that ended the inning. Zisk lined out to right fielder Vail to lead off the bottom half. Lockwood then recorded strikeouts of Robinson and Dyer to bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory to start the weekend series.