New York Mets' third baseman Howard Johnson let Tito Landrum's ground ball bounce past him for an error that allowed two runs to score in the 13th inning and gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 6-2 victory Monday at New York.
Johnson's error with the bases loaded and none out broke open the game between the two National League East teams that battled to the final weekend of last season before the Cardinals won the division.
Starting pitchers Dwight Gooden of the Mets and Ricky Horton of the Cardinals each pitched well although neither got a decision. Horton went seven innings and gave up one run on two hits, while Gooden worked eight innings, yielded two runs on five hits and struck out six.
Willie McGee, who entered the game 11 for 23 lifetime against Gooden, tied the game 1-1 in the sixth with a run-batted in single and put the Cardinals ahead in the eighth with a sacrifice fly. The Mets sent the game into extra innings in the ninth on Darrell Strawberry's RBI single off Todd Worrell.
The Cardinals broke the game open in the 13th after McGee led off with an infield single behind second base. Tommy Herr followed with a hard bunt back to the mound. Reliever Randy Niemann fielded the ball but threw late to second base in an attempt to force McGee.
Bruce Berenyi was summoned from the bullpen and walked Jack Clark on a full-count pitch to load the bases.
With the Mets' infield drawn in, Landrum hit a hard grounder that skipped under Johnson's glove and rolled into left field, scoring McGee and Herr. One out later, Ozzie Smith lined a two-run double for insurance.
Pat Perry, the fourth St. Louis pitcher, worked the final two innings of the combined four-hitter and won his first decision of the year. Niemann, 0-2, took the loss.
Gooden, the 1985 Cy Young Award winner, allowed only two baserunners through the first five innings, a one-out double by Smith in the third and a walk to Andy Van Slyke leading off the fifth. But with one out in the sixth, Vince Coleman lined a ball into the gap in right-center for a stand-up triple and McGee bounced a single past drawn-in shortstop Rafael Santana.
In the eighth, Smith led off with a soft single to center and took third when pinch-hitter Clint Hurdle followed with a perfect hit-and-run single to left. Hurdle had been hitless in 16 pinch-hit appearances for the Mets last year.
Coleman followed with a pop to short left field which George Foster caught on a ricochet off Santana's glove. But McGee got the run home with a hard liner that Foster caught in medium left field.