September 12, 1988: Carter's Homer in 9th Beats Bucs

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Date: September 12, 1988
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 3
Pirates: 2
Winning pitcher: Randy Myers
Key player(s): Gary Carter, Dave Magadan, Gregg Jefferies
Key play: Jefferies’ RBI double, Magadan’s RBI single, Carter’s home run

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Monday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a two-game series. Gary Carter homered in the ninth inning to give the Mets a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.

To begin the top of the first, Barry Bonds singled and advanced to third base on an ensuing single by Jose Lind. Andy Van Slyke hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Bonds for a 1-0 Bucs lead. Bobby Bonilla drew a walk and Mets’ starter Ron Darling followed up with strikeouts of R. J. Reynolds and Benny Distefano to end the inning. With one out in the bottom half, Gregg Jefferies doubled to right field. Pittsburgh’s Doug Drabek then got Keith Hernandez to ground out to shortstop Felix Fermin and retired Darryl Strawberry on a pop-up to third baseman Bonilla for the inning’s third out.

After a scoreless second inning, Darling set down the Pirates in order in the top of the third. Ron hit a one-out double in the bottom half. Darling moved to third base on Mookie Wilson’s fly out to center fielder Van Slyke and scored the tying run on a double by Jefferies. Dave Magadan then hit a single on which Jefferies was out at home via a throw by Van Slyke to catcher Mike LaValliere to end the inning.

Distefano tripled to lead off the top of the fourth. LaValliere followed with a single that brought home Distefano for a 2-1 Pittsburgh lead. Fermin grounded back to Darling for a double play and Drabek flied out to center fielder Wilson to finish off the inning. Drabek struck out the side in order in the bottom half and Darling hurled a scoreless top of the fifth. Drabek then set down all three Mets batters in the bottom of the inning.

Distefano hit a double to open the top of the sixth. LaValliere’s fly out to Wilson advanced Distefano to third base. Fermin was retired on a line drive to shortstop Kevin Elster after which Distefano was caught between bases and tagged out by third baseman Howard Johnson for an inning-ending double play. Leading off the bottom half, Wilson got an infield single. Jefferies singled to send Wilson to third and stole second. Magadan hit a single that plated Wilson and tied the game at 2-2. Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds were retired on consecutive fly balls to Van Slyke. Drabek then retired Johnson on a pop-up to first baseman Distefano to close out the inning.

Darling set down the Bucs 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. Pittsburgh reliever Brian Fisher gave up only a single to Elster in the bottom half and Darling hurled a scoreless top of the eighth. To begin the bottom of the inning, Jefferies singled for his fourth hit of the game. Fisher caught Jefferies with a pickoff throw to Distefano and issued a walk to Magadan. Strawberry went down on strikes and Fisher got McReynolds on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Bonds. With two outs in the top of the ninth, pinch-hitter Orestes Destrade drew a walk against Darling. Mets’ reliever Randy Myers then retired Bonds on a fly ball to right fielder Wilson (who had shifted from center) that finished off the inning.

Pirates’ reliever Jeff Robinson got Johnson on a foul pop-up to Bonilla to open the bottom of the ninth. Carter came to bat and slugged a home run to bring the game to an end. The Mets had an exciting victory that increased their National League East Division lead to eleven games over the second-place Pittsburgh team.