July 14, 1988: Mets Beat Braves in 11 Innings

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Date: July 14, 1988
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 9
Braves: 8
Winning pitcher: Terry Leach
Key player(s): Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson, Kevin McReynolds
Key play: Johnson’s homer in 3rd, McReynolds’ homer in 4th and single in 11th

The Mets faced the Braves on a Thursday night in Atlanta. Following the All-Star Break, the teams resumed the season with the opener of a four-game series. After squandering a five-run lead, the Mets came out with a 9-8 win in 11 innings.

Braves’ starter Rick Mahler pitched a perfect top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Ken Oberkfell got a one-out double off Mets’ starter Ron Darling. Gerald Perry drew a walk and Dale Murphy homered for a 3-0 Atlanta lead. Ken Griffey was retired on a fly ball to right fielder Darryl Strawberry. Darling then got Andres Thomas on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Lenny Dykstra.

Strawberry singled and stole second base to begin the top of the second inning. McReynolds hit a single and Howard Johnson popped out to shortstop Thomas. Gary Carter singled to drive home Strawberry and send McReynolds to third base. A single by Kevin Elster scored McReynolds for the Mets’ second run. Darling’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third before Dykstra fouled out to third baseman Oberkfell to end the inning. In the bottom half, Ozzie Virgil walked with one out and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mahler. Ron Gant then hit a single on which Virgil was out at home via a throw from left fielder McReynolds to catcher Carter.

Strawberry doubled with two outs in the top of the third inning. McReynolds followed with a double to score Darryl and tie the game. Mahler’s balk moved McReynolds to third base and Johnson hit a two-run homer for a 5-3 Mets lead. Carter drew a walk and went to second on Elster’s single. Mahler struck out Darling to end the inning. Ron then set down the Braves in order in the bottom half.

Dave Magadan got a two-out single off Braves’ reliever Ed Olwine in the top of the fourth. Strawberry hit a double to send Magadan to third. McReynolds hit a three-run homer to increase the Mets’ lead to 8-3. Olwine retired Johnson on a fly ball to center fielder Dion James for the third out of the inning. With one out in the bottom half, Thomas homered for the fourth Atlanta run. James grounded out to Darling and a single by Virgil ensued. Darling then struck out pinch-hitter Paul Runge to finish off the inning.

Braves’ reliever Charlie Puleo set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth. Oberkfell singled with one out in the bottom half. Perry hit a two-run homer to reduce the Mets’ lead to 8-6. Murphy grounded out to third baseman Johnson and a single by Griffey followed. Darling retired Thomas on an inning-ending ground ball to first baseman Magadan. Puleo pitched a scoreless top of the sixth. James doubled and Virgil drew a walk to start the bottom of the inning. Puleo went down on strikes and Gant singled to drive home James. Mets’ reliever Bob McClure walked Oberkfell to load the bases. Perry then hit a ground ball to second baseman Wally Backman for a double play that closed out the inning.

Puleo and Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell each hurled a scoreless seventh. The Mets were retired in order by Puleo in the top of the eighth and a single by James opened the bottom of the inning. James moved to second on Virgil’s sacrifice bunt and to third on McDowell’s wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Ted Simmons drew a walk and Gant hit a sacrifice fly to score James, tying the game at 8-8. Oberkfell grounded back to McDowell to end the inning. Atlanta’s Jose Alvarez shut down the Mets in the top of the ninth. McDowell then pitched a scoreless bottom half to send the game onward.

Alvarez and the Mets’ Terry Leach each hurled a scoreless 10th inning. Magadan grounded out to second baseman Gant to begin the top of the 11th. Strawberry drew a walk and McReynolds followed with a single. On the hit, left fielder Griffey made an error that allowed Strawberry to score and put the Mets in front. Johnson was given an intentional walk and Carter flied out to James. Alvarez then retired Elster on a pop-up to Thomas for the third out of the inning.

Mets’ reliever Randy Myers got pinch-hitter Jim Morrison on a grounder to Johnson to start the bottom of the 11th. Gant hit a double to center field and Oberkfell went down on strikes. Myers then retired Perry on a game-ending fly ball to McReynolds. The Mets had an extra-inning victory to begin the unofficial second half of the season.