July 17, 2002: Five-Run 8th Buries Expos

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Date: July 17, 2002
Mets starter: Jeff D'Amico
Mets: 9
Expos: 6
Winning pitcher: Mark Guthrie
Key player(s): Mo Vaughn, Edgardo Alfonzo, Jay Payton
Key play: Vaughn’s RBI singles, Alfonzo’s two-run double

The Mets faced the Expos on a Wednesday night in Montreal. The teams played the opener of a two-game series. The Mets scored five runs in the eighth inning and came away with a 9-6 win.

Expos’ starter Tomo Ohka pitched a scoreless top of the first. With two outs in the bottom half, Vladimir Guerrero homered for a 1-0 Expos lead. Cliff Floyd fouled out to catcher Mike Piazza to end the inning and Mo Vaughn walked to lead off the top of the second. Edgardo Alfonzo hit a double and moved to third base on Jay Payton’s single that scored Vaughn. Roger Cedeno followed with a force play ground ball to second baseman Jose Vidro to bring home Alfonzo and put the Mets ahead, 2-1. Ohka retired Rey Ordonez on a grounder to shortstop Orlando Cabrera and struck out Jeff D'Amico to finish off the inning. D'Amico then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Piazza hit a solo home run with two outs in the top of the third. Vaughn and Alfonzo followed with back-to-back singles to left field. Payton doubled to drive home Vaughn and increase the Mets’ lead to 4-1. On the play, Alfonzo was out at home via a relay throw by Vidro to catcher Brian Schneider to end the inning. With two outs in the bottom half, Brad Wilkerson hit a double to center field. D’Amico then got Vidro on a fly ball to left fielder Cedeno to close out the inning.

Montreal reliever Matt Herges set down the side in order in the top of the fourth. Guerrero slugged his second home run of the game to lead off the bottom half. Floyd singled and Andres Galarraga went down on strikes. Fernando Tatis doubled to drive home Floyd and reduce the Mets’ lead to 4-3. Cabrera lined out to right fielder Timo Perez, who then threw to shortstop Ordonez for an out at second base on Tatis for an inning-ending double play.

Following a scoreless fifth, Herges yielded only a single to Vaughn in the top of the sixth. Vidro homered against D’Amico to begin the bottom half, tying the game at 4-4. Guerrero hit a single and moved to third base on Floyd’s double off Mets’ reliever Jaime Cerda. Galarraga drew a walk against New York’s Mark Corey to load the bases. Corey struck out Tatis and got Cabrera to hit a ground ball to Ordonez for a double play that ended the inning. Herges hurled a scoreless top of the seventh. Mets’ reliever Mark Guthrie then shut down the Expos bottom half.

Alomar singled against Montreal reliever Scott Stewart to open the top of the eighth. Perez’s sacrifice bunt sent Alomar to second base and Piazza was given an intentional walk. Vaughn hit a single to score Alomar and give the Mets a 5-4 lead. Alfonzo followed with a double that drove home Piazza and Vaughn. Payton got a single off the Expos’ T. J. Tucker on which Alfonzo stayed at second. Alfonzo went to third on a wild pitch and came home on Cedeno’s sacrifice fly that moved Payton to second. Ordonez hit a single to bring home Payton with the fifth run of the inning, increasing the New York lead to 9-4. Tucker then retired pinch-hitter Jeromy Burnitz on a grounder to Vidro for the inning’s final out.

Facing Mets’ reliever David Weathers, Floyd reached second base on an error by Cedeno to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Galarraga drew a walk and Tatis singled to load the bases. Cabrera was retired on a fly ball to Perez and a single by Schneider brought home Floyd. Weathers recorded strikeouts of both pinch-hitter Troy O’Leary and Wilkerson to end the inning. For the Expos, reliever Joey Eischen pitched a perfect top of the ninth.

Vidro drew a walk against Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez to begin the bottom of the ninth inning. With Guerrero at bat, Vidro went to second base on defensive indifference. Guerrero singled to score Vidro with the sixth Montreal run. Floyd popped out to third baseman Alfonzo and a strikeout of Galarraga ensued. Guerrero moved to second on defensive indifference. Benitez then fanned Tatis to close out the game. The Mets had a victory to start the two-game set.