September 9, 1981: Leach's First Win, Searage's First Save

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Date: September 9, 1981
Mets starter: Greg Harris
Mets: 5
Pirates: 3
Winning pitcher: Terry Leach
Key player(s): Terry Leach, Ray Searage, Hubie Brooks, Rusty Staub
Key play: Brooks’ single in 5th, Staub’s sacrifice fly

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. The teams played the finale of a four-game series at Three Rivers Stadium. Terry Leach recorded his first major league win and Ray Searage got his first save in a 5-3 Mets victory over the Bucs.

Leading off the top of the first inning, Mookie Wilson singled to center field. John Stearns followed with a double that scored Wilson and advanced to third base on a single by Hubie Brooks. Rusty Staub hit a double play ground ball to second baseman Dale Berra on which Stearns came home and Lee Mazzilli hit a single. Pittsburgh starter Pascual Perez then retired Mike Jorgensen on a pop-up to Berra for the inning’s final out.

In the bottom of the first, Omar Moreno hit a leadoff double and advanced to third base on a single by Tim Foli. Moreno scored the Pirates’ first run on Bill Madlock’s sacrifice fly. Trying to advance after the catch, Foli was out via a throw by left fielder Mazzilli to second baseman Doug Flynn to complete a double play. Mets’ starter Greg Harris retired Jason Thompson on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Jorgensen. Perez set down the Mets in order on three outfield fly balls in the top of the second. Harris then shut down the Bucs in the bottom half.

Perez pitched a perfect top of the third. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Foli tripled to right field. Madlock followed with a two-run homer to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead. Thompson drew a walk and Mike Easler hit a grounder to first baseman Staub for an inning-ending double play. In the top of the fourth, Mazzilli got a one-out single and advanced to third base on a single by Jorgensen. Perez got Frank Taveras to foul out to catcher Steve Nicosia and retired Flynn on a ground ball to Berra that ended the inning. Harris then set down the Bucs 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Pinch-hitter Ron Hodges singled to open the top of the fifth. Wilson went down on strikes and Stearns singled to right field. Brooks hit a single to drive home Hodges with the tying run and send Stearns to third base. Perez was replaced on the mound by Pittsburgh reliever Don Robinson and a steal of second by Brooks ensued. Staub followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Stearns and put the Mets ahead, 4-3. Robinson got Mazzilli to ground out to Berra and end the inning. Leach then came in to pitch for New York and hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Following a scoreless sixth inning, Leach drew a walk to lead off the top of the seventh. Bob Bailor’s sacrifice bunt moved Leach to second base and Stearns drew a walk. Brooks singled to score Leach for the Mets’ fifth run and advance Stearns to third. On his own hit, Hubie was out at second via a throw by right fielder Lee Lacy to shortstop Foli. Rod Scurry came in to pitch for the Pirates and got Staub on an inning-ending line drive to left fielder Easler. Leach then retired the Bucs in order in the bottom half.

Scurry hurled a scoreless top of the eighth. Madlock drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the inning. Searage came in to pitch for the Mets and got pinch-hitter Gary Alexander to fly out to left fielder Bailor. Ray followed up by retiring Easler on a fly ball Jorgensen to close out the inning. Pittsburgh’s Kent Tekulve then set down the Mets in order in the top of the ninth.

Searage retired pinch-hitter Bill Robinson on a grounder to third baseman Brooks to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Lacy grounded out to shortstop Taveras. Ray then got Tony Pena to fly out to center fielder Mazzilli (who had shifted from left) to finish off the game. The Mets had a series-closing triumph as Leach chalked up his first big league win and Searage claimed his first save.