July 15, 1971: Mets End Six-Game Skid

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Date: July 15, 1971
Mets starter: Gary Gentry
Mets: 9
Astros: 4
Winning pitcher: Tug McGraw
Key player(s): Tug McGraw, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee
Key play: Jones’ two-run homer in 7th, Mets’ four runs in 8th

The Mets faced the Astros on a Thursday night in Houston. The teams began a series immediately following the All-Star Break. The Mets came from behind for a 9-4 win that stopped a six-game losing streak.

Houston starter Ken Forsch pitched a scoreless top of the first inning. Roger Metzger tripled off Mets’ starter Gary Gentry to begin the bottom half. An ensuing double by Joe Morgan scored Metzger with the first run of the game. Cesar Cedeno singled to bring home Morgan for a 2-0 Astros lead. Gentry retired the next three batters to end the inning. Ed Kranepool led off the top of the second by reaching on first baseman Denis Menke’s error. Forsch then set down the next three New York hitters.

Menke got a leadoff single in the bottom of the second inning. Johnny Edwards hit a tripled that plated Menke for the third Houston run. Forsch struck out and a sacrifice bunt by Metzger brought home Edwards. Gentry fanned Morgan for the third out of the inning. Forsch pitched a perfect top of the third. Mets’ reliever Ray Sadecki then set down the Astros in order in the bottom half.

Forsch walked Cleon Jones with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Kranepool followed with a single to left field. Ken Singleton hit a single to score Jones with the Mets’ first run of the game. A single by Bob Aspromonte brought home Kranepool to cut the Houston lead to 4-2. Forsch retired Jerry Grote on a fly ball to left fielder Bob Watson and struck out pinch-hitter Dave Marshall. In the bottom of the inning, Mets’ reliever Tug McGraw retired the side in order.

After a scoreless fifth inning, Singleton singled with one out in the top of the sixth. Aspromonte grounded out to Forsch to advance Singleton to second base. Grote hit a single to center field that drove home Singleton. McGraw took a called third strike for the third out. The Astros loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half. McGraw then threw a called third strike past Edwards to close out the inning.

Tommie Agee got a two-out single in the top of the seventh. Jones followed with a two-run homer to give the Mets a 5-4 lead. Houston reliever Jim Ray retired Kranepool on an inning-ending ground ball to shortstop Metzger. McGraw then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Singleton hit a double off the Astros’ George Culver to start the top of the eighth inning. Aspromonte got a bunt single and Grote hit into a force play. McGraw reached on Culver’s error to score Singleton and move Grote to second. Culver fanned Ted Martinez for the second out of the inning. A double by Ken Boswell brought home Grote with the Mets’ seventh run. Agee singled off Houston reliever Fred Gladding to score McGraw and Boswell. Jones hit a force play grounder to Metzger for the final out of the inning. McGraw then set down the Astros 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Houston’s Buddy Harris pitched a perfect top of the ninth inning. McGraw retired Jim Wynn on a fly ball to center fielder Agee to begin the bottom half. Menke grounded out to third baseman Tim Foli. Tug then got pinch-hitter Jack Hiatt on a ground ball to shortstop Martinez to end the game. The Mets had begun the unofficial second half of the season by ending their six-game skid.