September 12, 2002: Four Homers Put Away Expos

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Date: September 12, 2002
Mets starter: Jason Middlebrook
Mets: 8
Expos: 2
Winning pitcher: Jason Middlebrook
Key player(s): Jeromy Burnitz, Jason Phillips, Mo Vaughn
Key play: Mets’ four home runs

The Mets faced the Expos on a Thursday night in Montreal. The teams played the opener of a four-game series. The Mets hit four home runs in an 8-2 win.

Expos’ starter Tomo Ohka pitched a perfect top of the first inning. For the Mets, Jason Middlebrook struck out the side in a scoreless bottom half. Mo Vaughn singled to lead off the top of the second. Edgardo Alfonzo was retired on a fly ball to left fielder Troy O’Leary. Vaughn advanced to second base on Jeromy Burnitz’s ground out to first baseman Brad Wilkerson and came home on a single by Jason Phillips. On his own hit, Phillips was out on center fielder Endy Chavez’s throw to second baseman Jose Vidro to end the inning. Middlebrook then set down all three Montreal batters in the bottom half.

Following a scoreless third, Roberto Alomar got a bunt single with one out in the top of the fourth. Vaughn slugged a two-run homer to increase the Mets’ lead to 3-0. Alfonzo went down on strikes and Burnitz grounded out to third baseman Fernando Tatis to finish off the inning. Middlebrook hurled a perfect bottom half and Ohka retired the Mets in order in the top of the fifth. Middlebrook then set down the Expos 1-2-3 again in the bottom of the inning.

Ohka pitched a perfect top of the sixth and drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half. Chavez tripled to drive home Ohka and scored on an ensuing single by Vidro. Steve Reed came in to pitch for the Mets and got Vladimir Guerrero to hit a double play ground ball to shortstop Rey Ordonez. Wilkerson grounded out to second baseman Alomar to end the inning and Alfonzo got a one-out single against Ohka in the top of the seventh. Burnitz followed with a two-run homer to extend the Mets’ lead to 5-2. Montreal reliever Britt Reames got Phillips to ground out to Tatis and retired Ordonez on an inning-ending pop-up to shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Reed then gave up just a single to O’Leary in the bottom half.

Reames shut down the Mets in the top of the eighth. New York reliever Mark Guthrie pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning. With one out in the top of the ninth, Burnitz and Phillips connected for back-to-back solo homers against the Expos’ T. J. Tucker. Ordonez doubled and scored on a double by pinch-hitter Brady Clark for the Mets’ eighth run. Clark moved to third base on Roger Cedeno’s ground out to Wilkerson. Tucker then retired Timo Perez on a grounder to Cabrera that closed out the inning.

Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez got Wilkerson on a foul pop-up to third baseman Alfonzo to begin the bottom of the ninth. Tatis singled and O’Leary lined out to first baseman Ty Wigginton. Benitez then got Cabrera to foul out to Wigginton and end the game. The Mets had a victory to start the series.