July 5, 1990: Five Homers Give Whitehurst First Win

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Date: July 5, 1990
Mets starter: Bob Ojeda
Mets: 9
Braves: 8
Winning pitcher: Wally Whitehurst
Key player(s): Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Elster, Wally Whitehurst
Key play: Strawberry’s three-run homer in 7th, Elster's homer in 8th

The Mets and Braves faced each other on a Thursday night in Atlanta. The teams began a four-game weekend series by combining for 21 hits. The Mets slugged five home runs to come away with a 9-8 victory that gave Wally Whitehurst his first major league win.

Braves’ starter Charlie Leibrandt shut down the Mets without a hit in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Lonnie Smith and Jeff Treadway got back-to-back singles off Mets’ starter Bob Ojeda. A double by Ron Gant brought home Smith and an ensuing ground out by Jim Presley scored Treadway. Ojeda walked Dale Murphy and retired Francisco Cabrera on a fly ball to left fielder Kevin McReynolds. Gant came home from third base on Cabrera’s fly out for the third Atlanta run. After a single by Greg Olson, Ojeda got Andres Thomas to fly out to McReynolds and end the inning.

McReynolds led off the top of the second with a double to right field. Mark Carreon followed with a home run to cut the Braves’ lead to 3-2. Leibrandt retired three of the next four Met batters and drew a walk to begin the bottom of the inning. Smith reached on an error by third baseman Howard Johnson. Ojeda retired Treadway on a pop-up to shortstop Kevin Elster and gave up a single to Gant that scored Leibrandt. Whitehurst then came out of the bullpen and retired the next two Atlanta hitters for the final outs of the inning.

In the top of the third, Dave Magadan hit a leadoff homer for the Mets’ third run of the game. Leibrandt walked Gregg Jefferies and retired Darryl Strawberry on a ground ball back to the mound. McReynolds drew a walk and Jefferies moved to third base on Carreon’s foul out to first baseman Cabrera. Leibrandt got Elster on a fly ball to center fielder Gant for the third out. Whitehurst then set down the Braves in order in the bottom of the inning.

After pitching a perfect top of the fourth, Leibrandt grounded out to second baseman Jefferies to lead off the bottom half. Smith and Treadway followed with back-to-back singles. Gant slugged a three-run homer to increase the Atlanta lead to 7-3. Whitehurst then retired Presley on a grounder to Elster and struck out Murphy to end the inning.

Leibrandt and Whitehurst each pitched scoreless ball in the fifth and sixth innings. In the top of the seventh, Orlando Mercado led off with a home run. Johnson and Magadan each singled with one out and Joe Hesketh came in to pitch for the Braves. Jefferies greeted Hesketh with a double that brought home Johnson and sent Magadan to third. Strawberry followed with a three-run homer to give the Mets an 8-7 lead. Atlanta reliever Charlie Kerfeld retired the next two batters to close out the inning. Alejandro Pena then shut down the Braves in the bottom half.

Elster hit the Mets’ fifth home run of the game to begin the top of the eighth. Kerfeld set down the next three New York batters. Pena retired the Braves 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. The Mets put two runners on base with two outs against Atlanta’s Kent Mercker in the top of the ninth. Mercker then struck out pinch-hitter Mike Marshall to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, John Franco retired Smith on a grounder to Johnson and struck out Treadway. Gant followed with his second homer to reduce the Mets’ lead to one run. Franco then fanned Presley for the final out of the game. The Mets had a win on the strength of five home runs to start the four-game series.