August 8, 1991: Mets Beat Bucs in Series Finale

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Date: August 8, 1991
Mets starter: Frank Viola
Mets: 4
Pirates: 3
Winning pitcher: Frank Viola
Key player(s): Howard Johnson, Frank Viola, Dave Magadan
Key play: Johnson’s single and walk, Magadan’s RBI single

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. The Mets defeated the first-place Pittsburgh team for the second straight day with a 4-3 win.

The Bucs failed to score against Mets’ starter Frank Viola in the top of the first inning. Vince Coleman led off the bottom half with a bunt single. Coleman stole second base and moved to third on Kevin Elster’s ground out to second baseman Jose Lind. Gregg Jefferies grounded out to shortstop Jay Bell to drive home Coleman with the first run of the game. Howard Johnson followed with a double to right field. An ensuing single by Dave Magadan scored Johnson for a 2-0 Mets lead. Pittsburgh starter Doug Drabek then retired Mackey Sasser on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Barry Bonds.

After a scoreless second inning, Viola set down the Pirates in order in the top of the third. Elster drew a walk with one out in the bottom half. Jefferies hit a single to advance Elster to third base. Johnson singled to plate Elster with the Mets’ third run of the game. Bob Kipper replaced Drabek on the mound for the Bucs and retired Magadan on a fly ball to Bonds. Sasser followed with a single on which Jefferies was out at home via a throw by Bonds to catcher Mike LaValliere to end the inning. Bell singled and advanced to third base on an ensuing single by Andy Van Slyke to begin the top of the fourth. A sacrifice fly by Bobby Bonilla brought home Bell with the first Pittsburgh run. Viola set down the next two batters to finish off the inning. Kipper then held the Mets to a single by Viola in a scoreless bottom half.

Viola and Kipper each pitched scoreless ball in the fifth and sixth innings. Frank shut down the Pirates again in the top of the seventh and Rick Cerone singled to open the bottom half. Viola hit a force play grounder to Lind and a line drive by Coleman was caught by center fielder Van Slyke. Elster singled against Bucs’ reliever Roger Mason to advance Viola to second base. Jefferies singled off reliever Bob Patterson to load the bases. Johnson drew a walk to force home Viola for a 4-1 Mets lead. Patterson then got Magadan on a force play ground ball to Bell for the final out of the inning.

Viola and Patterson each retired the side in order in the eighth. Bell started the top of the ninth inning with a double to left field. Mets’ reliever John Franco came in to pitch and retired Van Slyke on a grounder to second baseman Keith Miller. Bonilla homered to reduce the Mets’ lead to one run. Bonds followed with an infield single. With pinch-hitter Lloyd McClendon at bat, Bonds was caught off first by Franco’s pickoff throw. First baseman Magadan threw to shortstop Elster covering second for the out on Bonds. Franco then threw a called third strike past McClendon to end the game. The Mets had a series-ending victory over the National League East Division leaders.