September 27, 1976: Jon and John Jolt Expos

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Date: September 27, 1976
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 10
Expos: 3
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Jon Matlack, John Milner
Key play: Milner’s two home runs

The Mets faced the Expos on a Monday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a four-game series. In a game that was stopped in the top of the eighth inning due to rain, Jon Matlack pitched a complete game and John Milner slugged two home runs to lead the Mets to a 10-3 win over Montreal.

Matlack and the Expos’ Larry Landreth each pitched two scoreless innings to start the game. Jon gave up just a single to Barry Foote in the top of the third and singled with one out in the bottom half. Lee Mazzilli reached on an error by first baseman Earl Williams that allowed Matlack to advance to third base. Jon scored the game’s first run on Felix Millan’s sacrifice fly. Milner followed with a two-run homer to extend the Mets’ lead to 3-0. Landreth then got Ed Kranepool to pop out to third baseman Larry Parrish and end the inning.

Matlack set down the side in order in the top of the fourth. Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson got back-to-back singles against Landreth to open the bottom half. Roy Staiger reached on a fielder’s choice ground ball and Matlack singled to score Grote. Montreal reliever Bill Atkinson threw a wild pitch that brought home Harrelson for a 5-0 Mets lead. Atkinson then struck out Mazzilli and retired Millan on a pop-up to second baseman Pete Mackanin that closed out the inning.

Williams got a leadoff single in the top of the fifth. Parrish hit a force play grounder to shortstop Harrelson and went to second base on Mackanin’s ground out to first baseman Kranepool. Foote singled to drive home Parrish with the Expos’ first run of the game. Pinch-hitter Andre Thornton drew a walk and Bombo Rivera followed with a force play ground ball to third baseman Staiger for the final out of the inning. Montreal reliever Chip Lang then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Tim Foli doubled to begin the top of the sixth. Andre Dawson flied out to center fielder Mazzilli and a wild pitch advanced Foli to third base. Ellis Valentine hit a single that scored Foli and cut the Mets’ lead to 5-2. Williams was retired on a grounder to Staiger. Matlack then struck out Parrish to finish off the inning.

Matlack got a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth. Mazzilli was hit by a pitch and Millan singled to load the bases. Milner followed with a grand slam (his third of the season) to increase the Mets’ lead to 9-2. Kranepool reached on Mackanin’s error and scored the tenth New York run on a double by Dave Kingman. Lang then got Grote on a grounder to shortstop Foli to close out the inning.

Matlack retired all three Expos hitters in the top of the seventh. Montreal reliever Chuck Taylor pitched a scoreless bottom half and Rivera tripled to begin the top of the eighth. Foli followed with a single to bring home Rivera with the Expos’ third run. The game was then held up by rain and eventually halted. Still, the Mets had a solid victory.