August 9, 2002: Leiter Leads Five-Hitter Over Cards

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Date: August 9, 2002
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 2
Cardinals: 1
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Mo Vaughn, David Weathers, Al Leiter, Armando Benitez
Key play: Vaughn’s home run, Matthews’ wild pitch

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Friday night in St. Louis. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Al Leiter and a pair of relievers teamed up for a five-hitter in a 2-1 Mets win over the Redbirds.

After a scoreless first inning, Cards’ starter Andy Benes pitched a perfect top of the second. Eduardo Perez hit a home run against Leiter to begin the bottom half. Tino Martinez singled and Eli Marrero followed with a ground ball to second baseman Roberto Alomar for a double play. Mike Matheny fouled out to first baseman Mo Vaughn to end the inning and Benes yielded only a single to Alomar in the top of the third. Leiter then held the Redbirds to a single by Edgar Renteria in the bottom half.

Vaughn homered to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Ty Wigginton was hit by a pitch and Jeromy Burnitz flied out to center fielder Marrero. Wigginton stole second base and Roger Cedeno drew a walk. Rey Ordonez popped out to shortstop Renteria and a line drive by Leiter was caught by first baseman Martinez for the inning’s final out. Al shut down the Cardinals in the bottom half and the Mets were limited to a single by Timo Perez in the top of the fifth. Benes singled with one out in the bottom of the inning. Fernando Vina hit a force play ground ball to Alomar and stole second. Renteria then grounded back to Leiter to close out the inning.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, Cedeno drew a walk against St. Louis reliever Mike Matthews. Cedeno stole second base and advanced to third on Matthews’ error. Ordonez was given an intentional walk and a wild pitch scored Cedeno for a one-run Mets lead. Matthews fanned Leiter for the third out and Scott Rolen reached on an error by third baseman Wigginton to open the bottom half. Albert Pujols lined out to center fielder Timo Perez and a walk to Eduardo Perez ensued. Leiter then got Martinez to hit a ground ball to Alomar for a double play that closed out the inning.

Alomar singled against Matthews to lead off the top of the seventh. Timo Perez lined out to right fielder Eduardo Perez, who threw to Martinez for an out on Alomar and a double play. St. Louis reliever Matt Duff issued a walk to Mike Piazza. A passed ball by catcher Matheny moved Piazza to second base and an intentional walk to Vaughn followed. Duff retired Wigginton on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Pujols. Leiter then limited the Cards to a single by Marrero in the bottom half.

Redbirds’ reliever Steve Kline pitched a perfect top of the eighth inning. For the Mets, reliever David Weathers surrendered just a walk to Eduardo Perez in the bottom half. Kline set down the side in order again in the top of the ninth and New York’s Armando Benitez retired Martinez on a grounder to Vaughn to start the bottom of the inning. Marrero was struck out and pinch-hitter Jim Edmonds drew a walk. With pinch-hitter J. D. Drew at the plate, Edmonds stole second base. Benitez then threw a called third strike past Drew to end the game. The Mets had a series-opening victory.