July 19, 2002: Three Homers Put Away Reds

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Date: July 19, 2002
Mets starter: Pedro Astacio
Mets: 4
Reds: 2
Winning pitcher: Pedro Astacio
Key player(s): Mike Piazza, Roberto Alomar, Edgardo Alfonzo
Key play: Alomar’s double and homer, Piazza’s and Alfonzo’s homers

The Mets faced the Reds on a Friday night in Cincinnati. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. The Mets hit three home runs in a 4-2 win.

Pedro Astacio and the Reds’ Jared Fernandez each started the game with two scoreless innings pitched. Rey Ordonez hit a double with one out in the top of the third. Ordonez advanced to third base on Astacio’s ground out to second baseman Todd Walker and came home on a double by Roberto Alomar. Fernandez retired Timo Perez on a pop-up to Walker for the inning’s third out and Reggie Taylor singled to open the bottom half. Fernandez’s sacrifice bunt moved Taylor to second and Walker went down on strikes. Barry Larkin doubled to score Taylor and tie the game at 1-1. Adam Dunn drew a walk and Astacio retired Austin Kearns on a fly ball to right fielder Jeromy Burnitz to finish off the inning.

Mike Piazza slugged a home run to lead off the top of the fourth. Mo Vaughn was struck out and Edgardo Alfonzo homered for a 3-1 Mets lead. Burnitz was hit by a pitch and Jay Payton singled. Ordonez and Astacio were retired on consecutive infield ground balls to close out the inning and Pedro yielded only a single to Kelly Stinnett in the bottom half. Fernandez hurled a perfect top of the fifth and the Reds loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. Astacio then got Kearns on a fly ball to left fielder Perez, from which Walker was caught by shortstop Ordonez’s relay throw to second baseman Alomar for an inning-ending double play.

Cincinnati reliever Jose Rijo gave up just a double to Alfonzo in the top of the sixth. To begin the bottom half, Russell Branyan hit a home run to cut the Mets’ lead to 3-2. Sean Casey flied out to Perez and a single by Stinnett ensued. Taylor went down on strikes and pinch-hitter Raul Gonzalez drew a walk. Astacio then retired Walker on a fly ball to Perez for the final out of the inning.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Alomar hit a solo homer against Reds’ reliever Bruce Chen. Perez got a bunt single and stole second base. Cincinnati’s Scott Williamson struck out Piazza to end the inning and Astacio pitched a perfect bottom half. Burnitz drew a two-out walk in the top of the eighth. Payton singled and Williamson retired Ordonez on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Kearns. Mets’ relievers Mark Guthrie and Scott Strickland then combined for a scoreless bottom half.

Williamson set down the side in order in the top of the ninth. Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez struck out pinch-hitter Jason LaRue to start the bottom of the inning. Walker also went down on strikes. Benitez then threw a called third strike past Larkin to end the game. The Mets had a victory to begin the weekend series.