July 7, 1987: Three-Run Innings Give Mets Win

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Date: July 7, 1987
Mets starter: Terry Leach
Mets: 6
Braves: 2
Winning pitcher: Terry Leach
Key player(s): Terry Leach, Rafael Santana, Wally Backman
Key play: Santana’s two-run single, Backman’s single in 7th

The Mets faced the Braves in a doubleheader on a Tuesday evening in Atlanta. The teams played a two-hour and fifty-two-minute opener of the twinbill at Fulton-County Stadium. A pair of late three-run innings gave the Mets a 6-2 win.

Terry Leach and the Braves’ Rick Mahler each started the game with five scoreless innings pitched. Mahler set down the Mets in order in the top of the sixth and Gerald Perry singled to begin the bottom half. Perry stole second base and advanced to third on Leach’s errant pickoff throw. Dale Murphy hit a single to score Perry for a 1-0 Atlanta lead. Ken Griffey flied out to right fielder Darryl Strawberry and a pop-up by Graig Nettles was caught by third baseman Howard Johnson. Leach then walked Bruce Benedict and got Glenn Hubbard on a force play grounder to shortstop Rafael Santana for the inning’s final out.

Strawberry got an infield single against Mahler to open the top of the seventh. Kevin McReynolds doubled and Johnson flied out to center fielder Dion James. Santana hit a single to drive home Strawberry and McReynolds, putting the Mets ahead by a run. Leach’s sacrifice bunt moved Santana to second base and Mookie Wilson was given an intentional walk. Wally Backman singled to bring home Santana and extend the Mets’ lead to 3-1. On his own hit, Backman was out on first baseman Perry’s relay throw to second baseman Hubbard to end the inning. Mets’ reliever Jesse Orosco then retired the side in order in the bottom half.

For the Braves, reliever Paul Assenmacher pitched a perfect top of the eighth. Perry hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. Murphy followed with a single that sent Perry to third base. Griffey followed with a double play ground ball to first baseman Keith Hernandez on which Perry came home with the second Atlanta run of the game. Orosco then got Nettles on a fly ball to center fielder Wilson to close out the inning.

McReynolds singled against Braves’ reliever Jim Acker to lead off the top of the ninth. Johnson doubled to score McReynolds and went to third base on a single by Santana. Pinch-hitter Lee Mazzilli reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to drive home Johnson and increase the Mets’ lead to 5-2. Wilson singled to load the bases and Backman followed with a ground ball on which shortstop Andres Thomas threw to catcher Benedict for an out at home on Santana. Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly against Atlanta’s Larry McWilliams to plate Mazzilli with the Mets’ third run of the inning and sixth of the game. McWilliams then retired Gary Carter on a foul pop-up to Benedict to finish off the inning.

Benedict singled against Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell to begin the bottom of the ninth. Hubbard hit a single and pinch-hitter Ted Simmons popped out to Santana. James was retired on a ground ball to Hernandez. McDowell then got Thomas to ground out to Santana and end the game. The Mets had a victory to start the doubleheader.