September 24, 1997: Six-Run 6th Beats Bucs

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Date: September 24, 1997
Mets starter: Dave Mlicki
Mets: 7
Pirates: 5
Winning pitcher: Joe Crawford
Key player(s): John Olerud, Carlos Mendoza, Bernard Gilkey
Key play: Olerud’s single and grand slam, Mendoza’s and Gilkey’s hit-by-pitches in 6th

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the latter half of a two-game series. The Mets scored six runs in the sixth inning in a 7-5 win over Pittsburgh.

Dave Mlicki and the Bucs’ Steve Cooke each started the game with two scoreless innings pitched. Against Mets’ reliever Joe Crawford to begin the top of the third, Tony Womack reached on an error by first baseman John Olerud. Womack advanced to second base on Turner Ward’s ground out to Crawford and stole third. Mark Smith drew a walk and Kevin Young went down on strikes. Joe Randa hit a single to score Womack for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead. Crawford retired Shawon Dunston on a line drive to left fielder Butch Huskey to end the inning. Cooke then set down the side in order in the bottom half.

Crawford hurled a perfect top of the fourth. Cooke shut down the Mets in the bottom of the inning and Crawford retired all three Bucs hitters in the top of the fifth. Alberto Castillo drew a walk to open the bottom half. Crawford was struck out and Carlos Mendoza got hit by a pitch. Shawn Gilbert took a called third strike and Olerud singled to score Castillo with the tying run. Cooke then fanned Huskey for the final out of the inning.

Crawford retired the Pirates 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. Alex Ochoa hit a leadoff single in the bottom half. Jason Hardtke followed with a force play grounder to shortstop Dunston and a fly ball by Luis Lopez was caught by center fielder Ward. Castillo and Brian McRae drew consecutive walks to load the bases and Cooke hit Mendoza with a pitch to force home Hardtke with the go-ahead run. Bucs’ reliever Chris Peters hit pinch-hitter Bernard Gilkey with a pitch that plated Castillo. Olerud slugged a grand slam for a six-run inning and a 7-1 Mets lead. Peters then retired Huskey on a ground ball to Dunston for the inning’s third out.

Mets’ reliever Ricardo Jordan pitched a scoreless top of the seventh. With one out in the bottom half, Hardtke and Lopez got back-to-back singles against Pittsburgh’s Clint Sodowsky. Hardtke advanced to third base after Castillo’s fly out to right fielder Jose Guillen. Sodowsky fanned Matt Franco to end the inning and Smith drew a one-out walk in the top of the eighth. Young and Randa hit singles to load the bases and Dunston singled to drive home Smith. Jordan was replaced in the mound by Mets’ reliever Mel Rojas, against whom Guillen hit a sacrifice fly that plated Young. Rojas got Jason Kendall on a force play ground ball to third baseman Lopez to close out the inning. Pirates’ reliever Ricardo Rincon then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Pinch-hitter Dale Sveum went down on strikes to begin the top of the ninth inning. Womack reached on a wild pitch third strike and advanced to second base on defensive indifference. Ward hit a single to bring home Womack and reduce the Mets’ lead to 7-4. Smith reached on shortstop Rey Ordonez’s error and Young followed with a force play grounder to Lopez. Randa singled to drive home Ward with the Pirates’ fifth run. Rojas then retired Dunston on a pop-up to Ordonez that brought the game to an end. The Mets had a victory to close out series.