Amazin’ Look Back – October 9, 1973, NLCS Game 4: Mets’ Bats Fall Silent, Lose 2-1 in 12, forcing a Deciding Game 5

By Sam Maxwell

The 1973 New York Mets, improbably 1 game away from the World Series with a 82-79 record on the year, could not convert yesterday’s momentum and big-time brawl into a series victory, bowing to the “overdog” 99-63 Big Red Machine by a score of 2-1 in 12. LHP George Stone started for the Mets and went 6 2/3 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4.  RHP Harry Parker took the loss in relief.

After scoring 9 runs the day before, the Mets could not take advantage of a slightly wild Cincinnati starter, southpaw Fred Norman. They got on the board first in the bottom of the 3rd, however, when center fielder Don Hahn led off with a walk. He moved over to 2nd when Bud Harrelson grounded out to 3rd. Norman couldn’t get his counterpart out, walking Stone to put 2 on. 3rd baseman Wayne Garrett flew out to center, sending Hahn over to 3rd. A hit was finally had in the form of 2nd baseman Felix Millan, who singled to left, scoring Hahn and sending George to 2nd. Right fielder Rusty Staub then grounded to 2nd, and the Mets only scoring was finished at 1.

Stone was absolutely cruising, having only given up 2 hits, both of whom were erased on double plays. In the top of the 7th, after getting 2nd baseman Joe Morgan to ground out to John Milner at 1st, the Reds’ 1st baseman, Tony Perez, was due up next, and he unfortunately halted George Stone’s dominance with a home run that tied the game. Though he got catcher Johnny Bench to pop out to 2nd, he walked right fielder Andy Kosco, prompting manager Yogi Berra to call it a night for George. LHP Tug McGraw came in, and got 3rd baseman Denis Menke to pop out to 2nd, ending the frame.

This game came down to the bullpens, and the Reds were certainly superior this evening. Manager Sparky Anderson pinch-hit for Norman in the top of the 6th, and between LHP Don Gullett, RHP Clay Carroll, and RHP Pedro Borbon, the Mets were only able to muster 2 more hits, all of which came off of the former.

Tug went 4 1/3 innings, keeping the Reds’ bats silent. Ken Boswell pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the 11th, but nothing could be done by either he or the bats that arrived thereafter.

Parker replaced him, and after getting the 1st out in the form of a pinch-hitting Ken Griffey, left fielder Pete Rose, one of the men at the center of yesterday’s brawl, got his revenge with a home run that gave the Reds the lead.

And once again, the Mets went silently thereafter.

They will now aim to take the series in 5 tomorrow night, and thankfully in front of their home crowd once more. They will see if their good fortunes can continue, sending RHP Tom Seaver to the mound to face RHP Jack Billingham.

Starting Lineups

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