June 3, 1978: Mets Win on Balk in 7th

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Date: June 3, 1978
Mets starter: Pat Zachry
Mets: 3
Padres: 2
Winning pitcher: Pat Zachry
Key player(s): Tom Grieve, Pat Zachry, Bob Owchinko
Key play: Grieve’s RBI single and throw in 6th, Owchinko’s balk

The Mets faced the Padres on a Saturday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played a two-hour and forty-nine-minute game. The Mets scored a run on a balk in the seventh inning that lifted them to a 3-2 win over San Diego.

After a scoreless first, Derrel Thomas drew a walk against Mets’ starter Pat Zachry to lead off the top of the second. Bill Almon hit a force play ground ball to third baseman Elliott Maddox and advanced to third base on a single by Rick Sweet. On his own hit, Sweet was out at second via a relay throw by Maddox to shortstop Tim Foli. Bob Owchinko singled to drive home Almon for a 1-0 Padres lead. With Gene Richards at bat, Owchinko was caught by catcher John Stearns’ throw to Foli for the inning’s third out.

Willie Montanez singled against Owchinko to begin the bottom of the second. Tom Grieve hit a single to send Montanez to third base and Stearns fouled out to third baseman Almon. Foli hit a ball into right field that brought home Montanez with the tying run. On the play, right fielder Dave Winfield threw to shortstop Ozzie Smith for a force out at second on Grieve. Doug Flynn flied out to Winfield to end the inning and Zachry pitched a perfect top of the third. Owchinko then retired the Mets in order in the bottom half.

A single by Winfield opened the top of the fourth. Winfield stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error by Stearns. Zachry struck out the next three batters to finish off the inning and Steve Henderson doubled to begin the bottom half. Montanez flied out to left fielder Oscar Gamble and a single by Grieve scored Henderson for a 2-1 Mets lead. Stearns was retired on a ground ball to Smith. Owchinko then got Foli to fly out to Gamble and end the inning.

Gene Richards hit a triple with two outs in the top of the fifth. On the play, Maddox made an error that allowed Richards to come home and tie the game at 2-2. Smith popped out to Foli to close out the inning and Lee Mazzilli hit a two-out single in the bottom half. Mazzilli stole second base and Maddox drew a walk. A wild pitch sent the runners to second and third before Henderson was retired on an inning-ending pop-up to Smith. Gamble singled to lead off the top of the sixth. Winfield went down on strikes and Gene Tenace hit a single to left field. Thomas followed with a force play grounder to Zachry. Almon hit a single on which right fielder Grieve threw to Stearns for an out at home on Tenace that ended the inning. Owchinko then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Zachry surrendered only a walk to Sweet in the top of the seventh. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Pat singled and moved to third base on a double by Mazzilli. With Maddox at the plate, Owchinko committed a balk that brought home Zachry and put the Mets ahead by a run. Owchinko followed up by issuing a walk to Maddox. San Diego reliever John D’Acquisto then struck out Henderson to finish off the inning.

Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood hurled a scoreless top of the eighth. D’Acquisto gave up just a walk to Montanez in the bottom half and Dave Roberts grounded out to Foli to lead off the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Jerry Turner was called out on strikes. Lockwood then got Richards to ground out to Foli and end the game. The Mets had a victory with the winning run coming home on a balk.