May 16, 1980: Allen's Relief Stifles Braves

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Date: May 16, 1980
Mets starter: Pete Falcone
Mets: 5
Braves: 3
Winning pitcher: Pete Falcone
Key player(s): John Stearns, Elliott Maddox, Neil Allen
Key play: Stearns’ single and double, Allen’s relief pitching

The Mets faced the Braves on a Friday night in Atlanta. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Neil Allen pitched three innings of solid scoreless relief to close out a 5-3 Mets win.

Elliott Maddox drew a walk against Braves’ starter Phil Niekro with one out in the top of the first. Lee Mazzilli hit a single to advance Maddox to third base. Mazzilli was caught stealing on catcher Bruce Benedict’s throw to second baseman Jerry Royster and a bunt single by John Stearns brought home Maddox. Mike Jorgensen singled to send Stearns to third and Niekro retired Joel Youngblood on a ground ball to third baseman Larvell Blanks to end the inning. With one out in the bottom half, Blanks homered against the Mets’ Pete Falcone to tie the game at 1-1. Gary Matthews walked and Chris Chambliss flied out to center fielder Youngblood. On the play, Matthews was out via a relay throw by second baseman Doug Flynn to first baseman Mazzilli for an inning-ending double play.

Niekro and Falcone each pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fourth. Flynn singled to lead off the top of the fifth. Falcone’s sacrifice bunt advanced Flynn to second base and Frank Taveras drew a walk. Maddox singled to load the bases and Mazzilli grounded out to Royster to drive home Flynn for a 2-1 Mets lead. Niekro got Stearns to ground out to Blanks and finish off the inning. Falcone then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Niekro yielded only a double to Youngblood in the top of the sixth. Falcone shut down the Braves in the bottom of the inning and Maddox drew a two-out walk in the top of the seventh. A passed ball by Benedict sent Maddox to second base and Mazzilli drew a walk. Benedict’s second passed ball moved the runners to second and third. Stearns followed with a double to score both Maddox and Mazzilli. John moved to third on Niekro’s wild pitch and came home on Jorgensen’s single for a 5-1 Mets lead. Youngblood drew a walk and Atlanta reliever Gene Garber retired Steve Henderson on a grounder to Royster to end the inning.

Jeff Burroughs drew a leadoff walk against Falcone in the bottom of the seventh. Dale Murphy hit a double to send Burroughs to third base. Benedict singled to score Burroughs and send Murphy to third. Allen came in to pitch for the Mets and retired pinch-hitter Brian Asselstine on a fly ball to left fielder Henderson, after which Murphy came home with the Braves third run (charged to Falcone.) Allen then got pinch-hitter Mike Lum to hit a double play ground ball to Flynn that ended the inning.

The Mets failed to score after loading the bases against Atlanta reliever Al Hrabosky in the top of the eighth. Allen struck out both Royster and Blanks in a perfect bottom half and Hrabosky retired the side in order in the top of the ninth. Chambliss grounded out to shortstop Taveras to open the bottom of the inning. Burroughs was called out on strikes. Allen then threw a called third strike past Murphy to end the game. The Mets had a victory on Neil’s clutch relief.