September 12, 1985: Hernandez's Single Puts Mets in First Place

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Date: September 12, 1985
Mets starter: Ed Lynch
Mets: 7
Cardinals: 6
Winning pitcher: Jesse Orosco
Key player(s): Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Willie McGee
Key play: McGee’s homer in 9th, Hernandez’s single in 10th

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Tied for first place in the National League East, the teams were in a battle for the division lead. Following a game-tying St. Louis comeback, Keith Hernandez drove in the winning run with a single in the ninth inning for a 7-6 Mets victory over the Redbirds.

Mets’ starter Ed Lynch pitched a perfect top of the first inning. To begin the bottom half, Mookie Wilson drew a walk and went to third base on an ensuing single by Wally Backman. Hernandez hit a ground ball to shortstop Ozzie Smith for a double play on which Wilson came home. Gary Carter singled and came around to score on a double by Darryl Strawberry. Danny Heep followed with a double to drive home Strawberry. Howard Johnson got the Mets’ third consecutive two-base hit to plate Heep for a 4-0 New York lead. Cardinals’ starter Joaquin Andujar then retired Rafael Santana on an inning-ending ground ball to third baseman Terry Pendleton.

Lynch set down all three St. Louis batters in the top of the second. Wilson singled off Andujar with one out in the bottom half. Backman hit a double to drive home Mookie for the Mets’ fifth run of the game. Cards’ reliever Ricky Horton got Hernandez on a grounder back to the mound and Carter was given an intentional walk. Strawberry drew a walk to load the bases and Heep was hit by a pitch to force home Backman and extend the Mets’ lead to 6-0. Horton then retired Johnson on a fly ball to center fielder Willie McGee for the third out of the inning.

Lynch struck out Smith to start the top of the third. Tom Nieto and pinch-hitter Curt Ford followed with back-to-back singles. Vince Coleman went down on strikes and McGee singled to drive home Nieto. An ensuing double by Tommy Herr scored Ford and McGee to reduce the Mets’ lead to 6-3. Lynch retired Andy Van Slyke on a pop-up to shortstop Santana to close out the inning. St. Louis reliever Pat Perry (in his major league debut) then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Mike Jorgensen drew a walk with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Smith followed with a bunt single. Nieto hit a double to score Jorgensen and Smith, cutting the Mets’ lead to one run. Perry flied out to left fielder Heep and a ground ball by Coleman to second baseman Backman ended the inning. Perry set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom half and Lynch hurled a scoreless top of the fifth. The Mets were then retired in order by Perry once again in the bottom half.

Mets’ reliever Doug Sisk shut down the Cardinals in the top of the sixth inning. Perry held the Mets to singles by Tom Paciorek and Wilson in a scoreless bottom half. Sisk held the Redbirds without a run in the top of the seventh and St. Louis reliever Ken Dayley hurled a scoreless bottom of the inning. Jorgensen got a double off the Mets’ Roger McDowell with one out in the top of the eighth. Smith singled to move pinch-runner Tom Lawless to third base. With Jesse Orosco on the mound for New York, Smith stole second base and pinch-hitter Tito Landrum drew a walk to load the bases. Orosco got pinch-hitter Brian Harper to hit a grounder to Santana for an inning-ending double play. Dayley then set down the Mets in order in the bottom half.

Coleman grounded out to third baseman Johnson to begin the top of the ninth. McGee followed with a home run to tie the game at 6-6. Herr flied out to center fielder Lenny Dykstra and a single by Dayley ensued. Orosco then struck out Pendleton to finish off the inning.

Wilson singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth. A sacrifice bunt by Backman advanced Wilson to second base. Hernandez hit a single to left field that drove home Mookie and ended the game. The Mets had a big win to take over sole possession of first place in the N. L. East.