September 16, 1965: Hunt and Stephenson Slug Mets Past Reds

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Date: September 16, 1965
Mets starter: Al Jackson
Mets: 7
Reds: 3
Winning pitcher: Al Jackson
Key player(s): Ron Hunt, John Stephenson
Key play: Hunt’s and Stephenson’s home runs

The Mets faced the Reds on a Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. Ron Hunt hit his only home run of the season and John Stephenson homered twice in a 7-3 Mets win over Cincinnati.

The Reds failed to score after loading the bases against Mets’ starter Al Jackson in the top of the first inning. With one out in the bottom half, Hunt slugged a homer against Cincinnati’s John Tsitouris for a 1-0 Mets lead. Ed Kranepool drew a walk and stole second base. Charley Smith popped out to second baseman Pete Rose and a strikeout of Joe Christopher ended the inning. Jackson retired the side on three consecutive infield ground balls in the top of the second. Tsitouris then limited the Mets to singles by Jim Hickman and Jackson in a scoreless bottom half.

Jackson set down the Reds on three straight grounders again in the top of the third. Hunt drew a walk against Tsitouris to begin the bottom of the inning. Kranepool singled and a sacrifice bunt by Smith advanced the runners to second and third base. Christopher hit a ground ball on which Hunt got caught in a rundown and was tagged out by third baseman Deron Johnson. Stephenson followed with a three-run homer to increase the Mets’ lead to 4-0. Cincinnati reliever Ted Davidson then got Hickman to fly out to left fielder Tommy Harper and finish off the inning.

Tony Perez hit a two-out triple in the top of the fourth. Johnny Edwards drew a walk and Leo Cardenas was retired on an inning-ending grounder to third baseman Smith. Davidson pitched a perfect bottom half and Jackson retired all three batters in the top of the fifth. Reds’ reliever Joe Nuxhall set down the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning and Frank Robinson walked with one out in the top of the sixth. Johnson then grounded back to Jackson for a double play that closed out the inning.

Christopher and Stephenson got back-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the sixth. Hickman fouled out to catcher Edwards and a single by Roy McMillan brought home Christopher. Jackson reached on a sacrifice bunt to score Stephenson from third for a 6-0 Mets lead. Nuxhall got Johnny Lewis to hit a double play grounder to first baseman Perez that ended the inning and Jackson gave up only a double to Cardenas in the top of the seventh. Cincinnati reliever Joey Jay then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Rose hit a single with one out in the top of the eighth. Vada Pinson singled and Robinson popped out to shortstop McMillan. Johnson followed with a home run to cut the Mets’ lead to 6-3. Perez was retired on a fly ball to center fielder Lewis to end the inning. Leading off the bottom half against Reds’ reliever Gerry Arrigo, Stephenson hit his second homer for the Mets’ seventh run of the game. Hickman popped out to Perez and a single by McMillan ensued. Jackson’s sacrifice bunt moved McMillan to second base and Arrigo got Lewis on a fly ball to Harper for the inning’s third out.

Edwards singled against Jackson to lead off the top of the ninth. Mets’ reliever Dave Eilers retired Cardenas on a line drive to McMillan. Eilers then got pinch-hitter Gordy Coleman to hit a ground ball to second baseman Hunt for a game-ending double play. The Mets had a series-closing victory.