July 6, 1988: Darling Wins Own Game With Single

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Date: July 6, 1988
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 5
Reds: 4
Winning pitcher: Ron Darling
Key player(s): Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Randy Myers
Key play: Strawberry’s home run, Carter’s and Darling’s singles

The Mets faced the Reds on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. Ron Darling won his own game with a run-scoring single in a 5-4 Mets victory over Cincinnati.

Darling shut down the Reds in the top of the first inning. Wally Backman drew a walk with one out in the bottom half. Kevin McReynolds flied out to right fielder Paul O’Neill and a home run by Darryl Strawberry gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. Cincinnati starter Jack Armstrong then struck out Howard Johnson to end the inning.

Darling and Armstrong each pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fifth. Ron held the Reds without a hit while the Mets’ lone hit against Armstrong was a double by Mackey Sasser. Barry Larkin got a one-out single in the top of the sixth. Kal Daniels homered to tie the game and Chris Sabo followed with an infield single. O’Neill slugged a two-run homer for a 4-2 Cincinnati lead and Nick Esasky grounded out to shortstop Kevin Elster. Darling then fanned Eddie Milner for the inning’s final out.

McReynolds doubled against Armstrong to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Reds’ reliever Rob Murphy struck out Strawberry and issued a walk to Johnson. Dave Magadan hit a single to drive home McReynolds. Pinch-hitter Gary Carter singled to score Johnson and tie the game at 4-4. Rob Dibble came in to pitch for Cincinnati and fanned Elster. Darling followed with a single that plated Magadan and put the Mets ahead by a run. Dibble then got Lenny Dykstra to ground out to second baseman Jeff Treadway and finish off the inning.

Darling struck out Lloyd McClendon to open the top of the seventh. Treadway grounded out to first baseman Magadan and a single by Leon Durham ensued. Larkin was hit by a pitch and Mets’ reliever Randy Myers struck out Daniels to end the inning. Dibble set down the Mets in order in the bottom half and Myers retired all three Reds batters in the top of the eighth. Cincinnati relievers Tim Birtsas and Frank Williams then combined for a scoreless bottom of the inning.

Pinch-hitter Dave Collins lined out to second baseman Backman to begin the top of the ninth. McClendon was retired on a ground ball to Elster. Myers then fanned Treadway for the final out of the game. The Mets had a win to close out the series as Darling’s go-ahead RBI single stood up.