June 30, 1978: Stearns Stands Up to Parker

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Date: June 30, 1978
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 6
Pirates: 5
Winning pitcher: Dale Murray
Key player(s): John Stearns, Lenny Randle
Key play: Ott's error, Randle's triple, Stearns' tag of Parker

The Mets and Pirates played on a Friday night at Three Rivers Stadium. The game featured a ninth inning in which the Mets overtook a Pittsburgh lead and barely hung on to win, 6-5. The game ended when catcher John Stearns made a tag of oncharging Pirate runner Dave Parker.

Nino Espinosa held the Pirates scoreless for the first four innings. A single by Ed Ott in the second and a fourth inning walk to John Milner were the only Pirate runners against him. Meanwhile, the Mets got a run against Pittsburgh starter Don Robinson when Nino doubled and later scored on Tim Foli's sacrifice fly in the third.

The Pirates tied the game on Frank Taveras's single that scored Phil Garner in the bottom of the fifth. The Mets failed to score after putting runners on second and third base with none out against Robinson in the seventh. Pittsburgh then took a 3-1 lead on back-to-back doubles by Garner and Ken Macha and a run-scoring single by Taveras in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Willie Montanez got a two-out double to score Lenny Randle in the top of the eighth. The Pirates loaded the bases with none out in the bottom half. Met relievers Paul Siebert and Dale Murray then shut down the Bucs to keep it a one-run game.

Stearns hit a double off Pittsburgh's Grant Jackson to begin the top of the ninth. Following an out, pinch-hitter Ed Kranepool singled off reliever Dave Hamilton to bring home Stearns with the tying run. Randle then came up against Ed Whitson and hit a foul pop fly that was dropped by Pirate catcher Ott. Given a second chance, Lenny tripled to right field to score Kranepool and put the Mets ahead, 4-3.

Randle came home on a single by Joel Youngblood for another Met run. Youngblood moved to second base on an out and then scored on Steve Henderson's single to right field. The Mets had taken a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, Murray gave up one-out singles to Taveras and Omar Moreno. Parker followed with a triple to score both runners, cutting the New York lead to one run. Dale then got Bill Robinson to fly out to Youngblood. Tagging up at third base, Parker came running home in an attempt to tie the game.

Youngblood, who had been shifted from second base, made his throw from right field to Stearns. As John got the ball, the 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound Parker tried to knock it loose by barrelling into him. Stearns held the ball for the final out and left the field unharmed. Parker, meanwhile, suffered a fractured left cheekbone that kept him out of action for 15 days.