May 4, 1976: Lockwood Stifles Big Red Machine

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Date: May 4, 1976
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 5
Reds: 3
Winning pitcher: Tom Seaver
Key player(s): Skip Lockwood, Dave Kingman
Key play: Kingman’s two-run homer, Lockwood’s strikeout of Bench

The Mets and Reds began a three-game series on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. Tom Seaver got the start in the Mets’ first meeting of the year with the defending World Champions. Seaver recorded his fourth win of the season, but it was Skip Lockwood’s relief pitching that solidified the Mets’ 5-3 triumph over Cincinnati.

Seaver retired the side in order in each of the first two innings. Tom struck out three batters in shutting down the Big Red Machine. The Mets took a 2-0 lead when Cincinnati starter Fred Norman issued four consecutive walks (the last of which was to Seaver) and a run-scoring force play grounder to Del Unser in the bottom of the second. The Reds then got a run on Pete Rose’s single that scored Cesar Geronimo in the top of the third.

Joe Torre singled off reliever Pedro Borbon to begin the bottom of the third inning. An ensuing home run by Dave Kingman extended the Mets’ lead to 4-1. Ed Kranepool struck out and Jerry Grote singled to center field. Borbon recorded two consecutive force play grounders to close out the inning. Seaver shut down Cincinnati after a leadoff double by Johnny Bench in the top of the fourth. Reds’ reliever Pat Zachry then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Joe Morgan singled with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Dan Driessen followed with a double to score Morgan. Seaver threw a wild pitch that moved Driessen to third base before striking out Bench for the third out. Zachry limited the Mets to a double by Kranepool in a scoreless bottom half. Seaver and the Reds’ Will McEnaney then pitched scoreless ball in the sixth inning.

Rose singled off Seaver to open the top of the seventh. After retiring Ken Griffey on a bunt, Tom walked Morgan and Driessen to load the bases. With Bench coming to bat, Mets’ manager Joe Frazier removed Seaver from the game. Skip Lockwood was called in from the bullpen.

Lockwood excited the Shea crowd by striking out Bench. He also fanned Mike Lum to end the inning with no runs scored. The Mets increased their lead to 5-2 on Kranepool’s two-out single off McEnaney that brought home Felix Millan in the bottom of the inning. Lockwood then recorded two more strikeouts in a scoreless top of the eighth.

Despite a single by Lockwood, the Mets failed to score against Cincinnati’s Rawly Eastwick in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the top of the ninth, Griffey led off with a single and Morgan walked. Skip retired Driessen and Bench before yielding a single to Lum on which Griffey scored. Geronimo walked to load the bases and Dave Concepcion came to bat. Lockwood got Concepcion to hit a ground ball to shortstop Bud Harrelson for a game-ending force out on Geronimo. The Mets had a win on Lockwood’s clutch relief.