July 10, 1976: Kingman and Hodges Slug Braves

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Date: July 10, 1976
Mets starter: Mickey Lolich
Mets: 4
Braves: 2
Winning pitcher: Skip Lockwood
Key player(s): Dave Kingman, Ron Hodges, Skip Lockwood
Key play: Kingman’s two homers, Hodges’ home run

The Mets faced the Braves on a Saturday night in Atlanta. The teams played the third of four games in the final weekend before the All-Star Break. Dave Kingman and Ron Hodges combined for three home runs in a 4-2 Mets win.

After a pair of scoreless innings, Braves’ starter Andy Messersmith retired the Mets in order in the top of the third. The Mets’ Mickey Lolich walked Messersmith to begin the bottom half. Jerry Royster’s sacrifice bunt advanced Messersmith to second base and Rod Gilbreath went down on strikes. Jim Wynn hit a double to drive home Messersmith with the first run of the game. An ensuing single by Willie Montanez scored Wynn for a 2-0 Atlanta lead. Lolich then struck out Tom Paciorek to end the inning.

Kingman homered to lead off the top of the fourth. Ed Kranepool flied out to right fielder Ken Henderson and a walk to Wayne Garrett followed. Garrett was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Biff Pocoroba before Hodges drew a walk and went to third on Bud Harrelson’s double to left field. Messersmith fanned Lolich for the third out of the inning. Mickey then shut down the Braves in the bottom half.

Messersmith and Lolich each hurled a scoreless fifth inning. To begin the top of the sixth, Messersmith struck out Kranepool and retired Garrett on a ground ball back to the mound. Hodges hit a home run to tie the game at 2-2. Harrelson grounded out to second baseman Gilbreath to end the inning. Paciorek singled and moved to third base on a single by Henderson to open the bottom half. On Darrel Chaney’s grounder, third baseman Garrett threw to catcher Hodges for an out at home on Paciorek. Pocoroba walked to load the bases and Messersmith was called out on strikes. Lolich then got Royster on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Kingman.

The Mets failed to score against Messersmith in the top of the seventh. Gilbreath reached on an error by shortstop Harrelson to start the bottom of the inning. Wynn flied out to Kingman and a single by Montanez sent Gilbreath to third base. Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood came in to pitch and threw a called third strike past Paciorek. Henderson drew a walk to load the bases. Lockwood then got Chaney on a called third strike for the final out of the inning.

Leading off the top of the eighth, Kingman hit a home run (his 30th of the season) to put the Mets ahead. An error by shortstop Chaney allowed Kranepool to reach second base and Garrett’s fly out to right fielder Henderson moved Ed to third. Kranepool scored the Mets’ fourth run as first baseman Montanez misplayed Hodges’ ensuing bunt. Messersmith retired Harrelson on a ground ball to Gilbreath and got Lockwood for an inning-ending grounder to Chaney. Skip then shut down Atlanta in the bottom half.

Braves’ reliever Mike Marshall pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning. Wynn grounded out to second baseman Felix Millan to open the bottom half. Montanez followed with a single to center field. Lockwood then got Paciorek to hit a ground ball to Garrett for a game-ending double play. The Mets had a victory as three solo homers proved to be enough.