July 20, 1974: Three Consecutive Homers Lift Mets Over Padres

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Date: July 20, 1974
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 10
Padres: 2
Winning pitcher: Jerry Koosman
Key player(s): George Theodore, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones
Key play: Mets’ three home runs in 5th, Koosman's 1000th strikeout in 8th

The Mets and Padres faced each other on a Saturday night in San Diego. The teams played the second game of a three-game weekend series. Three consecutive home runs in the fifth inning propelled the Mets to a 10-2 win.

Padres’ starter Bill Laxton pitched a perfect top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Enzo Hernandez got a leadoff single against Mets’ starter Jerry Koosman. Hernandez stole second base and ensuing walks to Jerry Morales and Nate Colbert loaded the bases. Koosman struck out Willie McCovey and got Dave Winfield to ground out to first baseman George Theodore. Hernandez scored on Winfield’s grounder for a 1-0 Padres lead. Cito Gaston then grounded out to second baseman Ted Martinez to end the inning.

Cleon Jones reached second base on an error by third baseman Dave Roberts to begin the top of the second. Jerry Grote drew a walk and Jones moved to third on Don Hahn’s fly out to center fielder Winfield. Laxton walked Wayne Garrett to load the bases. Martinez hit a fly ball to right fielder Gaston that scored Jones with the tying run. A walk to Koosman reloaded the bases and Lowell Palmer came in to pitch for San Diego. Palmer retired Bud Harrelson on a fly ball to left fielder Colbert for the third out. Koosman then shut down the Padres despite two singles in the bottom of the inning.

Palmer held the Mets without a run in the top of the third. Koosman struck out Colbert and McCovey to begin the bottom half. Winfield hit a single and moved to second base on Koosman’s balk. Gaston doubled to bring home Winfield and put the Padres ahead, 2-1. Koosman then got Fred Kendall on an inning-ending ground out to Martinez at second.

In the top of the fourth, Grote led off with a single and Hahn flied out to Gaston in right field. Garrett walked and Martinez got an infield single to load the bases for the Mets. Koosman hit a grounder to Roberts at third for a double play that ended the inning. Jerry then set down San Diego 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Theodore hit a home run to tie the game at 2-2. Rusty Staub followed with a home run to put the Mets ahead. Jones connected for the Mets’ third consecutive homer off Palmer to make the score 4-2. For the Padres, Larry Hardy came in to pitch and gave up back-to-back doubles to Grote and Hahn for another New York run. Hahn advanced to third on Garrett’s single and scored the Mets’ sixth run on Martinez’s second sacrifice fly of the game. Hardy struck out Koosman to end the inning. Jerry then retired three straight San Diego batters after a walk to Morales in the bottom half.

Harrelson walked and stole second base to begin the top of the sixth inning. Theodore struck out and Staub received an intentional walk. Harrelson scored on Jones’ single and Grote singled for his third hit of the game to load the bases. Facing reliever Dave Tomlin, Hahn hit a single to bring home Staub and Jones and increase the Mets’ lead to 9-2. Tomlin set down the next two batters to close out the inning. The Padres were then retired in order by Koosman in the bottom half.

In the top of the seventh, Koosman led off with a single to right field. Harrelson flied out and Theodore hit into a force play. Staub hit a double to score Theodore for the Mets’ tenth run. Tomlin got Jones to ground out and end the inning. Koosman then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

San Diego reliever Vicente Romo shut down the Mets in the top of the eighth inning. In the bottom half, Koosman struck out Colbert and yielded a single to McCovey. After throwing a wild pitch that moved McCovey to second, Koosman fanned Winfield for his 1,000th career strikeout. Gaston popped up to third baseman Garrett for the third out. Romo then pitched his second scoreless inning in the top of the ninth.

Kendall popped out to Theodore to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Roberts followed with a grounder to Garrett for the second out. Koosman then retired pinch-hitter Glenn Beckert on a ground ball to shortstop Harrelson to end the game. The Mets had a decisive victory on Koosman’s pitching and three straight homers.