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National League Roundup : Johnson Helps Carry Mets Over Cardinals

From Associated Press

St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog didn’t ask for Howard Johnson’s bat to be checked this time. He was too busy checking the list of injured Cardinals.

Johnson hit a home run and drove in three runs as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 8-4, Monday to win their 11th consecutive season opener played at Shea Stadium.

The Mets have won five consecutive season openers and 18 of their last 20. They have not lost an opening-day game at Shea Stadium since dropping an 11-10 decision to Montreal on April 8, 1969.

In 1987, when Johnson hit 36 homers, Herzog thought the Met third baseman was putting cork into his bat.

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“That’s forgotten,” Johnson said. “It’s sweet because it came on opening day and because we beat a team that will give us trouble.”

The Cardinals played without All-Star shortstop Ozzie Smith, who has a strained muscle in his left side.

“It wasn’t a good spring,” Herzog said. “We lost (pitcher Danny) Cox for the season and then (pitcher) Greg Mathews went down. We can’t afford to get off to a slow start because the Mets are a good team.”

Johnson, mentioned in many trade rumors during the winter, had a two-run single off Joe Magrane during a four-run third inning and a solo home run off Todd Worrell in the eighth. In nine career at-bats against Worrell, Johnson has four home runs.

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“He’s one of the best relievers in the league,” Johnson said of Worrell.

The Mets had serious trade talks with Atlanta, Seattle, Boston and Kansas City, and Johnson was part of all the deals.

“I feel I’ve got a lot of people to win over,” Johnson said. “I just want to get off to a fast start. The trade talk was depressing in the sense I didn’t know where I would be. But if I’m traded, the other team is getting a good player.”

Magrane, the league earned-run average leader last year at 2.18, pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed nine hits and seven runs, all earned.

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Darryl Strawberry had three hits and two runs batted in for the Mets, and Dwight Gooden pitched seven-plus innings for the victory to improve to 3-0 on opening day.

Gooden left with none out in the eighth, after Pedro Guerrero drove in his fourth run of the game with a single. Don Aase, who was released by Baltimore last season and invited to camp with New York as a non-roster player, came on to retire the side and got a save in his Met debut.

San Francisco 5, San Diego 3--Kevin Mitchell drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the seventh to lead the Giants to victory at San Diego.

With San Diego leading, 3-2, starter Eric Show retired the first two batters in the seventh but then walked Brett Butler, Robby Thompson and Will Clark. Mitchell’s single drove in the tying and winning runs, and Candy Maldonado’s double chased Show.

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The three-run rally made a winner of San Francisco starter Rick Reuschel, who was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. The 39-year-old Reuschel allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.


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