Amazin’ Look Back: July 17, 1973 – Mets Scalp Braves With Big Ninth Inning Comeback

By Michael Lecolant

The Atlanta Braves spent the first six innings of this evening’s game pounding ten hits and seven runs against the Mets very unlikely starting pitcher, Tug McGraw.  New York’s screw-balling fireman walked four and struck out four, while surrendering home runs to Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, shortstop Marty Perez, and the very first batter he faced, right fielder Ralph Garr.

July 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Batting practice balls on the field prior to Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves held a 4-0 lead after three innings.  In the top of the fifth, the visiting Mets finally got on the board against Atlanta starting pitcher Carl Morton, when John Milner scored on Don Hahn‘s sacrifice fly.  But Atlanta struck for three more runs in the sixth off McGraw, led by blasts from Perez and Aaron to make it a 7-1 game.  While Tug McGraw had seen better days, Braves starter Carl Morton cruised over the first eight innings.  To that point, he had allowed only one run on five hits, walked two and struck out four.  In relief of McGraw, John Strohmayer and Buzz Capra combined to pitch two scoreless innings.

And then, the ninth inning happened.  Carl Morton climbed the hill in search of a complete game victory, but the Mets had other ideas.  Wayne Garrett led off the Amazin’s final at-bat with a single to right.  Felix Millan followed with a well struck liner to center field, caught however by Dusty Baker for the first out.  Then up came Rusty Staub, who stroked his eighth home run of the season to make it a 7-3 game.  Cleon Jones followed with his first hit of the game; a single up the middle.  Braves manager Ed Mathews made no move, and allowed his hurler to face the Mets hammer, John Milner.  A mistake – as Milner clubbed his thirteenth home run of the season, making it a 7-5 game, with still only one out.  Only then did skipper Eddie Mathews make his way to relieve Morton.  In came Adrian Devine from the bullpen.  After retiring Ron Hodges, Devine surrendered a single to Hahn, and issued a walk to pinch-hitter Ed Kranepool.  That brought up Jim Beauchamp, who promptly singled to right, scoring Hahn from second.  That was the end of Devine, as Mathews then summoned Tom House from the bullpen to face Willie Mays.  But the Say Hey Kid had his way with House, singling to right field, scoring both Kranepool and Beauchamp to give the Mets an improbable 8-7 lead.

Starting Lineups

Coach Yogi Berra called upon Harry Parker to pitch the ninth.  Slugging third baseman Darrell Evans was first up, and struck out.  Pinch-hitting for Hank Aaron, Sonny Jackson then stepped to the plate, and also struck out.  Center fielder Dusty Baker then popped-up foul to John Milner at first to end the game, and secure a series tying victory over the host Braves.

Buzz Capra was credited with his first win of the season, while Harry Parker earned his second save.  In tomorrow’s rubber game, Tom Seaver is scheduled to face-off against the Braves Roric Harrison.  The Mets will then continue on to Houston, and wrap up this thirteen game road trip in St. Louis. With tonight’s win, they evened their trip record with a 3-3 mark so far.

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