June 11, 1977: Mets Beat Astros in 10 for Split

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Date: June 11, 1977
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 6
Astros: 4
Winning pitcher: Skip Lockwood
Key player(s): Skip Lockwood, Bruce Boisclair, Felix Millan
Key play: Astros’ errors, Millan’s double

The Mets faced the Astros in a doubleheader on a Saturday evening in Houston. After dropping the opener of the twinbill at the Astrodome, the Mets aimed for a split in the nightcap. The Mets came from behind and emerged with a 6-4 win in 10 innings.

After a scoreless first, Bruce Boisclair singled against Astros’ starter Bo McLaughlin to open the top of the second. Jerry Grote hit a single and Mike Phillips was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Nino Espinosa singled to drive home Boisclair with the first run of the game. Lenny Randle hit a ground ball on which Houston reliever Joe Niekro threw to catcher Ed Herrmann for an out at home on Grote. Herrmann threw to first baseman Bob Watson to complete a double play. Niekro retired Bud Harrelson on a fly ball to right fielder Jose Cruz to end the inning. Mets’ starter Espinosa then yielded only a single to Herrmann in the bottom half.

Leading off the top of the third, John Milner homered to extend the Mets’ lead to 2-0. Dave Kingman went down on strikes and Ed Kranepool flied out to center fielder Cesar Cedeno. Boisclair drew a walk and stole second base. A passed ball moved Boisclair to third and Grote drew a walk. Niekro struck out Phillips to finish off the inning. Espinosa then shut down the Astros in the bottom half.

Niekro held the Mets to a single by Randle in the top of the fourth. Espinosa pitched a perfect bottom of the inning and Niekro set down all three batters in the top of the fifth. Pinch-hitter Art Gardner got an infield single to lead off the bottom half. Cedeno’s sacrifice bunt advanced Gardner to second base and Enos Cabell grounded out to shortstop Harrelson. Cruz slugged a home run to tie the game at 2-2. Espinosa then got Willie Crawford on a pop-up to Harrelson for the inning’s third out.

Houston reliever Joe Sambito hurled a scoreless top of the sixth. Espinosa yielded just a single to Art Howe in the bottom half and Sambito retired the Mets in order in the top of the seventh. Julio Gonzalez drew a walk against New York reliever Bob Apodaca to begin the bottom of the inning. Sambito was struck out and Cedeno flied out to right fielder Kranepool. Cabell hit a single to send Gonzalez to third base. Cruz followed with a triple that brought home Gonzalez and Cabell for a 4-2 Astros lead. Mets’ reliever Bob Myrick then retired Crawford on a fly ball to left fielder Kingman to close out the inning.

Sambito set down the side 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Myrick pitched a perfect bottom half and pinch-hitter Felix Millan drew a one-out walk in the top of the ninth. Randle walked and Sambito was replaced on the mound by Astros’ reliever Ken Forsch. Pinch-hitter John Stearns hit a force play ground ball to second baseman Howe. Milner reached second base on an error by Watson that sent Stearns to third and allowed Millan to score. Kingman reached on third baseman Cabell’s error that plated Stearns and tied the game at 4-4. Forsch retired Mike Vail on an inning-ending fly ball to Cruz. Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood then hurled a scoreless bottom half to send the game onward.

Boisclair hit a leadoff double in the top of the 10th. On Grote’s ensuing sacrifice bunt, Herrmann made an error that allowed Boisclair to score and Jerry to reach second base. Grote moved to third on Phillips’ ground out to Howe and came home with the Mets’ sixth run on a double by Millan. Randle was walked intentionally and Lockwood’s sacrifice bunt sent the runners to second and third. Milner was given an intentional walk that loaded the bases. Forsch then got Kingman to fly out to Cedeno and finish off the inning.

Pinch-hitter Ken Boswell was retired on a fly ball to center fielder Lee Mazzilli to begin the bottom of the 10th. Watson doubled and went to third base after Howe’s fly out to Mazzilli. Lockwood then struck out pinch-hitter Cliff Johnson to end the game. The Mets had an extra-inning victory and a split of the doubleheader.