May 6, 1976: Lockwood Stops Reds Again

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Date: May 6, 1976
Mets starter: Craig Swan
Mets: 4
Reds: 2
Winning pitcher: Craig Swan
Key player(s): Skip Lockwood, Ed Kranepool, Joe Torre
Key play: Kranepool’s double, Lockwood’s strikeout of Bench, Torre’s home run

The Mets and Reds concluded a three-game series on a Thursday afternoon. After splitting the first two games, the teams played the rubber match of the series at Shea Stadium. Like he did two days earlier, Skip Lockwood recorded a key strikeout of one of baseball’s best hitters and earned a save. The Mets came out with a 4-2 victory.

Mets’ starter Craig Swan shut down Cincinnati in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Wayne Garrett led off with a walk and went to second base on Reds’ starter Don Gullett’s wild pitch. Felix Millan reached on an error by shortstop Dave Concepcion that sent Garrett to third base. Following an out, Dave Kingman singled to score Garrett. Jerry Grote flied out and Ed Kranepool hit a double to bring home Millan and Kingman. Gullett then got Del Unser for an inning-ending a fly ball to left fielder George Foster.

After a scoreless second, Concepcion tripled to lead off the top of the third inning. Gullet grounded out and Pete Rose hit a single to score Concepcion. Swan allowed no more runs for the rest of the inning despite Millan’s error and Joe Morgan’s stolen base. The Mets failed to score in the bottom half. Swan and Gullett then pitched scoreless ball in the fourth and fifth innings.

Morgan homered to cut the Mets’ lead to 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Gullett pitched a perfect bottom of the inning. Swan retired the Reds 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. The Mets were then shut down by Gullett despite Unser’s leadoff double in the bottom half.

In the top of the eighth, Morgan singled with one out. Swan committed a balk to move Morgan to second base. Tony Perez drew a walk and Swan was removed from the game. Lockwood came in to pitch with Johnny Bench coming to bat.

For the second time in three days, Lockwood struck out Bench in a clutch situation. Skip followed up by retiring Foster on a fly ball to center fielder Unser to end the inning. Joe Torre homered for the Mets’ fourth run in the bottom half. Gullett then finished the inning with no further scoring.

Lockwood set down all three Cincinnati batters in the top of the ninth. The Mets had their second win over the defending World Champions. Skip’s outstanding relief had stopped the Big Red Machine again.