August 5, 1988: Hernandez Returns with Winning Homer

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Date: August 5, 1988
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 3
Pirates: 2
Winning pitcher: Ron Darling
Key player(s): Keith Hernandez
Key play: Hernandez's home run in 7th

The Mets and Pirates began a four-game series on a Friday night in Pittsburgh. Keith Hernandez made his return the the Mets' lineup after missing six weeks with a torn right hamstring. In his first game back, Keith emerged as the hero with a home run to put the Mets ahead to stay in a 3-2 win.

The Mets got a run in the top of the first inning. Wally Backman hit a single with one out and moved to third base on a double by Hernandez. Darryl Strawberry followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Backman for a 1-0 Met lead. Mets' starting pitcher Ron Darling then set down the Pirates in order in the bottom of the inning.

Darling and Pittsburgh's Bob Walk both pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Len Dykstra led off with a triple, but Walk retired the next three Mets' batters. The Pirates then tied the game when Sid Bream homered off Darling in the bottom of the inning.

Neither team scored in the sixth inning. In the seventh, Backman doubled with one out and Walk was replaced by Pirates' reliever Dave Rucker. Hernandez greeted the lefthanded Rucker with a two-run homer to put the Mets on top, 3-1. In the bottom of the inning, R. J. Reynolds homered for Pittsburgh to cut the Mets' lead to one run.

In the top of the eighth, Darling was struck by a ball hit by Dykstra for the final out of the inning. In the bottom half, Ron struck out pinch-hitter Tommy Gregg before issuing a walk to Orestes Destrade. Mets' reliever Randy Myers came in and got Barry Bonds and Jose Lind to fly out to right fielder Strawberry to end the inning. The Mets were then shut down by Pittsburgh's Bob Kipper in the top of the ninth.

Myers faced Reynolds with two out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the ninth. Reynolds hit a foul pop-up near the seats along the first base line. A fan touched the ball as second baseman Backman attempted to make the catch. Interference was called and the game was over. The Mets had a win on Hernandez's successful return.