September 2, 1978: Three-Run 9th Gives Mets DH Split

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Date: September 2, 1978
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 5
Dodgers: 3
Winning pitcher: Dale Murray
Key player(s): Lee Mazzilli, Willie Montanez, Dale Murray
Key play: Montanez’s single, Rautzhan’s error

The Mets faced the Dodgers in a doubleheader on a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. After dropping the opener of the twinbill, the Mets aimed for a spilt in the second game. The Mets scored three runs in the ninth inning for a 5-3 win.

Nino Espinosa and the Dodgers’ Bob Welch each started the game with three scoreless innings pitched. Welch gave up only a single to Bobby Valentine in the top of the fourth and Dusty Baker singled to lead off the bottom half. Rick Monday popped out to second baseman Valentine and a double by Joe Ferguson drove home Baker for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead. Bill Russell hit a single and Welch was retired on a pop-up to first baseman Willie Montanez. Espinosa then got Dave Lopes on a ground ball to third baseman Lenny Randle to close out the inning.

Welch yielded just a double to Ron Hodges in the top of the fifth. Espinosa hurled a perfect bottom half and got a bunt single to open the top of the sixth. Randle flied out to center fielder Bill North and a double by Valentine ensued. Lee Mazzilli singled to bring home Espinosa and send Valentine to third base. Ed Kranepool hit a sacrifice fly to score Valentine and put the Mets ahead, 2-1. Welch retired Montanez on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Baker. Espinosa then shut down the Dodgers in the bottom half.

Welch set down the side in order in the top of the seventh. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Lopes singled and went to second base on a balk. Lopes stole third and North grounded out to second baseman Valentine. Steve Garvey followed with a two-run homer to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Espinosa then got Ron Cey to line out to shortstop Doug Flynn and finish off the inning.

Los Angeles reliever Charlie Hough retired all three batters in the top of the eighth. The Mets’ Dale Murray pitched a perfect bottom half and Mazzilli singled against Hough to begin the top of the ninth. Mazzilli advanced to second base on a wild pitch and Kranepool drew a walk (charged to Hough) against the Dodgers’ Lance Rautzhan. Montanez hit a single to score Mazzilli and tie the game at 3-3. On Bruce Boisclair’s sacrifice bunt, Rautzhan made an error that allowed both pinch-runner Sergio Ferrer and Montanez to come home for a two-run New York lead. On the play, Boisclair was out via a throw by Baker to third baseman Ted Martinez. Hodges singled and Rautzhan got Flynn to hit a ground ball to shortstop Russell for an inning-ending double play.

Russell popped out to Montanez to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Lee Lacy was retired on a pop-up to Valentine. Murray then got Lopes to ground out to Flynn and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a comeback victory and a doubleheader spilt.