May 2, 1986: Mets Hold Off Reds Rally

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Date: May 2, 1986
Mets starter: Sid Fernandez
Mets: 8
Reds: 7
Winning pitcher: Sid Fernandez
Key player(s): Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight, Howard Johnson, Roger McDowell
Key play: Hernandez’s double, Knight’s single, Johnson’s double, McDowell’s single

The Mets faced the Reds on a Friday night in Cincinnati. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. The Mets held off a Reds comeback attempt for an 8-7 victory.

Lenny Dykstra drew a walk against Cincinnati starter Bill Gullickson to begin the top of the first inning. Wally Backman singled to advance Dykstra to third base and stole second. Keith Hernandez doubled to drive home Dykstra and Backman. Gary Carter flied out to left fielder Nick Esasky and an intentional walk to Darryl Strawberry followed. George Foster was called out on strikes and Ray Knight singled to score Hernandez for a three-run Mets lead. Gullickson then struck out Howard Johnson to finish off the inning.

Dave Concepcion drew a one-out walk against Mets’ starter Sid Fernandez in the bottom of the first. Dave Parker hit a single and Tony Perez walked to load the bases. Esasky drew a walk to force home Concepcion and a strikeout of Buddy Bell ensued. Sal Butera hit a single to bring home Parker and reduce the Mets’ lead to 3-2. On the play, center fielder Dykstra threw to catcher Carter for an out at home on Perez that ended the inning.

After a scoreless second, Carter walked with one out in the top of the third. Gary advanced to third base on Strawberry’s single and scored on a single by Foster. Knight hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Strawberry from third for a 5-2 New York lead. After Darryl crossed the plate, catcher Butera threw to first baseman Perez for an out on Foster and an inning-ending double play. Fernandez then shut down the Reds in the bottom half.

Gullickson pitched a perfect top of the fourth. Fernandez struck out the side in order in the bottom of the inning and Gullickson retired all three batters in the top of the fifth. Sid gave up just a walk to Concepcion in the bottom half and Foster reached on third baseman Bell’s error with one out in the top of the sixth. Knight grounded out to second baseman Ron Oester and an intentional walk to Johnson followed. Gullickson then struck out Fernandez to end the inning.

Bell drew a leadoff walk against Fernandez in the bottom of the sixth. Butera singled and Oester hit a force play ground ball to shortstop Johnson. Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell fanned both pinch-hitter Kal Daniels and Eric Davis to close out the inning. Cincinnati’s Joe Price retired the side in order in the top of the seventh. McDowell then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Carter reached second base on Reds’ reliever John Franco’s error to lead off the top of the eighth inning. Strawberry drew a walk and Foster went down on strikes. Knight flied out to center fielder Davis and a double by Johnson drove home Carter. McDowell hit a single that scored Strawberry and Johnson, increasing the Mets’ lead to 8-2. On his own hit, Roger advanced to third base via an error by left fielder Max Venable. Franco then got Dykstra to ground out to first baseman Esasky (who had shifted from left) and end the inning.

Esasky walked to open the bottom of the eighth. Bell hit a force play grounder back to McDowell and a single by pinch-hitter Eddie Milner ensued. On Milner’s hit, left fielder Foster made an error that allowed Bell to score. Oester got a bunt single and moved to third base on Venable’s double that brought home Milner. Davis hit a single to score Oester and Venable, cutting the New York lead to 8-6. Davis stole second and went to third on a single by Concepcion. McDowell was then replaced on the mound by Mets’ reliever Jesse Orosco.

With Parker at bat, Concepcion stole second base. Parker was struck out and Orosco threw a wild pitch that scored Davis with the Reds’ seventh run of the game. Pinch-hitter Bo Diaz drew a walk and Orosco retired Esasky on a pop-up to Johnson for the inning’s final out. Cincinnati reliever Ted Power then pitched a scoreless top of the ninth.

Bell was retired on a fly ball to Foster to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Kurt Stillwell went down on strikes. Orosco then got Oester to ground out to Johnson and end the game. The Mets had sustained a Reds rally and come away with a victory.