7,655: Mets win in 20th inning in game that was scoreless through 18

Now THAT’s a pitchers’ duel

Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 20th inning Saturday to lift the New York Mets to a marathon 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in a game that was scoreless through 18.

Angel Pagan led off the top of the 20th with a single and reached third on a Mike Jacobs single before Reyes (0-7) sacrificed him home. Mike Pelfrey traded his starting pitcher’s role for one of the closer, retiring two batters before giving up a single and a walk. He then got Ryan Ludwick to ground out for the save.

The game had been scoreless through 18. Jeff Francoeur hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 19th inning to break the scoreless tie, but Francisco Rodriguez couldn’t come through with the save.

To lead off the 19th, Reyes drew a walk from position player Joe Mather (who was forced to pitch) and Luis Castillo sacrificed him over to second. After Mather intentionally walked David Wright, he hit Jason Bay with a pitch to load the bases. Francoeur (0-7) then came through with the game’s sole RBI to that point.

But K-Rod couldn’t close the door. He walked Ryan Ludwick, but Blanco caught him stealing. But then he gave up a double to Albert Puljols, who advanced to third on a ground out before scoring on a Yavier Molina single.

The starting pitching was outstanding. The Mets’ Johan Santana gave up just four hits and the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia gave up just one, but both kept the opposing teams off the scoreboard through seven innings.

Garcia no-hit the Mets through five, while Santana lost his no-no right away on a Skip Schumaker double. That bumped our NoNoHitters.com count up to 7,655 New York Mets games without a no-hitter, and marked the second game in a row in which the Mets’ no-no was killed immediately. (See our No-hitters killed by first at bat for more details and rankings on this topic.)

The bullpens (Igarashi, Feliciano, Nieve, Takahashi, Mejia and Valdes for the Mets) kept it scoreless through 18, marking the longest game without a run since at Aug. 23, 1989, Dodgers-Expos matchup that went 21. The Mets and Astros hold the record – 23 innings – dating back to 1968.

Hisanori Takahashi got into trouble in the 14th after Mather led off with a double and advanced to third when Takahashi mishandled a ball off the bat of Brendan Ryan. But Takahashi worked out of the jam. After Ryan took second on fielder’s indifference, he struck out Skip Schumaker and Ludwick, allowing him to intentionally walk Albert Pujols to face pitcher Blake Hawksworth, whom struck out to end the inning.

Angel Pagan’s lead-off single in the sixth marked the Mets’ sole hit through 11 1/3 innings.

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