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On This Date in Sports July 3, 1986: Good Knight

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

In a preview of the NLCS, the New York Mets begin a four-game series against the Houston Astros. The game featuring has plenty of fireworks as the Mets win in ten innings 6-5. The Astros had taken a 5-3 lead in the tenth on a home run by Phil Garner. In the bottom of the inning, Darryl Strawberry hit his second homer to tie the game, while Ray Knight wins the game with a walk-off.

As New York celebrates the 100th anniversary and the completion of renovations of the Statue of Liberty, the top two teams in the National League meet in a four-game series at Shea Stadium of the Independence Day Weekend. The Mets, managed by Davey Johnson, entered the game with a record of 52-21, holding a comfortable 12 and a half-game lead. The Astros, managed by Hal Lanier, entered the game atop the Western Division with a record of 42-35. The Mets swept a two-game series in Shea in their earlier meetings and split a two-game series at the Astrodome during May.

Ron Darling made the start for the Mets, while Jim Deshaies got the start for the Astros. Darling got into early trouble for New York as Bill Doran led the game off with a double. He would score one batter later on a single by Ty Gainey. Gainey would steal second and later scored on a single by Glenn Davis. Mookie Wilson would lead off the bottom of the first with a double but was stranded at third when Darryl Strawberry and George Foster struck out. Ed Hearn put the Mets on the board with a home run in the second, but the Astros answered back with a run in the third as Jose Cruz plated Denny Walling with a sacrifice fly in the fourth. In the fifth, the Mets started a two-out rally with a walk by Kevin Mitchell. One batter later, the game was tied 3-3 on a home run by Darryl Strawberry. Darling, who struggled early in the game, settled down and pitched nine innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out nine. Jesse Orosco came on to pitch the tenth inning for the Mets. After retiring the first two batters, Orosco walked pinch hitter Jim Pankovits. The next batter Phil Garner also a pinch hitter, hit a two-run blast to give Houston a 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the tenth, Frank DiPino came on in relief and walked the leadoff batter, Lenny Dykstra. The next batter, Darryl Strawberry, made the Astros pay, with his second two-run home run to tie the game 5-5. DiPino settled down and retired Gary Carter and Rafael Santana. The next batter was Ray Knight, who was having a miserable night with four strikeouts. However, this time, Knight launched a home run to win the game 6-5, starting fireworks night at Shea Stadium early.

The Mets would win three of four against the Astros over the Holiday Weekend but lost three of four in Houston a few weeks later. This would set the stage for a classic NLCS, with the Mets beating the Astros in six games.