May 2, 1976: Four-Run 6th Dumps Astros

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Date: May 2, 1976
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 7
Astros: 4
Winning pitcher: Jerry Koosman
Key player(s): Del Unser, Wayne Garrett, Dave Kingman
Key play: Garrett’s home run, Kingman’s single, Unser’s single and homer

The Mets faced the Astros in a doubleheader on a Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. After dropping the opener of the twinbill, the Mets aimed for a split in the second game. The Mets scored four runs in the sixth inning and defeated Houston, 7-4.

Mets’ starter Jerry Koosman struck out the side in a scoreless top of the first. The Astros’ Gil Rondon surrendered only a walk to Ed Kranepool in the bottom half and Koosman gave up just a walk to Leon Roberts in the top of the second. Leading off the bottom of the inning, Wayne Garrett hit a home run for a 1-0 Mets lead. Dave Kingman tripled and Jerry Grote flied out to right fielder Greg Gross. Trying to score after the catch, Kingman was out at home via a throw by Gross to catcher Skip Jutze for a double play. Rondon then retired Bud Harrelson on a ground ball to shortstop Roger Metzger for the inning’s third out.

Koosman and Rondon each pitched scoreless ball from the third inning to the fifth. To begin the top of the sixth, Cesar Cedeno singled and advanced to third base on a single by Bob Watson. Roberts hit a force play ground ball to shortstop Harrelson to drive home Cedeno and tie the game at 1-1. Jutze went down on strikes and Koosman got Gross on a grounder to first baseman Joe Torre to end the inning. Kranepool singled to open the bottom half. Ed went to second on Torre’s sacrifice bunt and Garrett drew a walk. Kingman hit a single to score Kranepool and put the Mets ahead, 2-1. Rondon was then replaced on the mound by Houston reliever Mike Barlow.

Grote greeted Barlow with a single that scored Garrett and sent Kingman to third base. Harrelson laid down a sacrifice bunt to drive home Kingman and a single by Koosman ensued. Del Unser singled to bring home Grote with the Mets’ fourth run of the inning for a 5-1 New York lead. Felix Millan followed with a walk to load the bases. Barlow then got Kranepool to line out to Gross and finish off the inning.

Koosman hurled a scoreless top of the seventh. Astros’ reliever Tom Griffin retired the side in order in the bottom half and Watson doubled against Koosman with one out in the top of the eighth. Roberts hit a double and Jutze grounded out to Harrelson to drive home Watson. Pinch-hitter Cliff Johnson homered to cut the Mets’ lead to 5-4. New York’s Skip Lockwood threw a called third strike past Metzger to end the inning and drew a two-out walk in the bottom half. Unser slugged a two-run homer and Millan walked. Griffin then retired Kranepool on a ground ball to second baseman Larry Milbourne to close out the inning.

Pinch-hitter Jose Cruz grounded out to third baseman Garrett to lead off the top of the ninth. Milbourne went down on strikes. Lockwood then got Enos Cabell to fly out to left fielder Kranepool and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory and a split of the doubleheader.