June 9, 1973: Rusty Joins the Rundown

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Date: June 9, 1973
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 4
Dodgers: 2
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Rusty Staub, Willie Mays
Key play: Staub's two doubles, Mays' home run, double play in 7th

The Mets played the Dodgers on a Saturday afternoon. A crowd of 47,800 was on hand for Old Timers' Day as players from the past were honored at Shea Stadium. Following the pre-game festivities, the Mets defeated Los Angeles by a 4-2 score as Rusty Staub drove in three runs and took part in a rundown that resulted in a double play.

The Dodgers scored in the top of the first inning against Mets' starter Jon Matlack. Dave Lopes led off with a double and moved to third base on a single by Bill Buckner. Lopes came home on Willie Davis's force play grounder for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead. Matlack then recorded two ground outs to end the inning with no further scoring.

For the Mets, Ted Martinez singled off the Dodgers' Al Downing to begin the bottom of the first. Martinez moved to second base on Felix Millan's ground out and Willie Mays drew a walk. Staub hit a double to left field to score Martinez and Mays. Downing retired Jim Fregosi and John Milner for the final outs of the inning and neither team scored in the second.

In the top of the third, the Dodgers tied the game on Buckner's sacrifice fly that brought home Lopes. Mays homered off Downing in the bottom half to put the Mets ahead, 3-2. Matlack and Downing then pitched shutout ball from the fourth inning to the sixth, allowing only one hit apiece.

Pinch-hitter Tom Paciorek doubled off Matlack to begin the top of the seventh inning. Lopes' bunt single sent Paciorek to third base with none out. With Buckner at the plate, Matlack made a pickoff throw on which Lopes was caught off base. First baseman Milner threw to shortstop Bud Harrelson to begin a rundown play. After a few more throws that included second baseman Millan, Staub ran from his position in right field to cover a vacated second base. Rusty took a throw from Millan, tagged out Lopes and threw to catcher Duffy Dyer for an out at home on Paciorek. After the unusual double play, Matlack retired Buckner on a fly ball to center fielder Mays that ended the inning.

Los Angeles reliever Doug Rau pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Matlack set down the Dodgers in order on three infield pop-ups. Millan singled off Rau in the bottom half and scored on Staub's two-out double to increase the Mets' lead to two runs. Reliever Charlie Hough then retired George Theodore on a fly ball to center fielder Davis for the third out of the inning.

Matlack shut down the Dodgers without a hit in the top of the ninth inning. The Mets had a victory on Jon's complete game and Staub's two timely doubles. Rusty's alertness in the rundown was also a key factor in the outcome.