Wright delivers game-winning double

Wright delivers game-winning double

NEW YORK -- The television replays don't lie, and apparently -- somewhere within a frenzy of ecstatic New York Mets and exhausted Atlanta Braves -- David Wright had the presence of mind to touch second base.

But Wright could only simply shrug his shoulders and smile. If he did make his way there, putting the official touches on a game-winning ground-rule double that drove in Carlos Beltran and lifted the Mets to a thrilling 8-7 victory Friday, he certainly wasn't going to remember it.

"I really don't know if I did or not," Wright said. "I didn't feel my legs. I was floating on air."

Somehow, Wright made it several feet farther than Robin Ventura did in 1999, when the Mets' third baseman that season slugged a game-winning hit to defeat the Braves in extra innings at Shea Stadium.

Granted, Ventura's so-called "grand-slam single" came in the National League Championship Series, a game with a true playoff atmosphere and intense postseason consequences. But as Friday's marathon progressed, the usual standby cliche of "it's just another game" rapidly faded.

With innings peeled away as players came and went -- a grand total of 43 names appeared in the box score during the four-hour, 47-minute endurance test -- it became clear that this contest was of the caliber that could pay dividends down the road; the kind that winning teams look back upon, point to, and say, "That was the day."

"Overall, a crazy game," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "But a game you've got to have."

It was an instant classic, even if it didn't start that way. Both long-forgotten starting pitchers -- Steve Trachsel for the Mets, Kyle Davies for the Braves -- posted near-identical lines, allowing four runs and nine hits over six innings.

That was where the magic began, with the Mets heading into the bottom of the seventh inning trailing by four runs, the wind appearing to have left New York's sails as reliever Chad Bradford surrendered back-to-back run-scoring hits to Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur in the top half of the inning.

Not so fast. Jose Reyes, who set a new career high with five hits in the contest (all of them coming in the first nine innings), singled to open the inning and moved to third on a ground-rule double by Paul Lo Duca.

Davies gave way to reliever Macay McBride, and shortstop Edgar Renteria committed an error on a ground ball by Beltran, scoring Reyes.

Carlos Delgado followed with a run-scoring hit off McBride, and Cliff Floyd brought in the Mets' fifth run with a single through the right side off of reliever Ken Ray. Kaz Matsui followed with a single to shallow center, plating the tying run, but pinch-hitter Julio Franco stranded the go-ahead runs by bouncing into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Franco scowled then, but gave only signs of delight later, prodding the weary scribes who had been forced to revise their game stories time and time again, accommodating the game's twists and turns following his ground ball to shortstop.

"How many times did you have to write it, again and again?" Franco said. "I like it. I like it. Blame me."

The game tale appeared well in hand in the Mets' eighth, as Reyes put the last notch on his five-hit night, tripling into the right-field corner off of Oscar Villarreal and clapping his hands furiously after sliding into third base. But it was the Braves' turn for some magic, as Mike Remlinger escaped the inning with Reyes still standing on third.

"You know how it is," Reyes said. "You lead off an inning with a triple, and you think the guys behind me will drive me in. But they made quality pitches. That's the way it is."

On the game went, to the 11th inning, when Billy Wagner suspected he'd be plastered across the tabloids as the contest's goat. Wilson Betemit victimized Wagner for his first career pinch-hit home run leading off the 11th inning, blasting a shot over the wall just to the right of center field.

"When he hit it, I honestly didn't think he got it," Wagner said. "I was shocked. I tip my hat to him."

But Floyd became perhaps the happiest man in Flushing, answering right back with a long solo blast off Chris Reitsma to begin the bottom half of the inning, shattering a long slump of frustration and extending the game.

"It's good to pick up the team once in a while, you know?" Floyd said. "I was just trying to swing hard, and I was seeing the ball pretty good against Reitsma. I could have gotten us out of here a little sooner, but I'll take what I can get."

"Cliff is loved on this club," Wright said. "Everyone pulls for Cliff. You want to see good things happen to good people."

The carousel of pitching changes and pinch-hitters carried on into the late hours, as it appeared the Friday night game would become a Saturday morning special. But with Jorge Julio setting the Braves down in the 14th inning, and not a single position player left on New York's bench, a move appeared in order.

Lo Duca flew out facing Jorge Sosa for the first out of the inning, but Beltran walked and moved to second base on a passed ball by McCann. Wright followed by blasting a Sosa offering to the warning track in left-center field.

"He left it up, and I just saw a good pitch to drive," Wright said.

But even as the Mets' fans raised their hands in triumph, Wright held his breath, keeping his arms lowered. Andruw Jones was still in pursuit, and as anybody who has seen baseball in the last decade can attest, magical things can happen out there.

Heck, anyone who watched baseball at Shea Stadium on Friday night could attest to that.

"I was begging Andruw wouldn't go back and catch that one," Wright said.

He didn't, as the ball bounced up into the night, and Wright quickly lost himself in a wave of black jerseys, screams and head-slapping. With an afternoon game on tap Saturday, the turnaround will be cruelly quick, but these are the kinds of games that don't tend to wash away in a hurry.

"This just shows the toughness and the makeup of this team," Wright said. "Not one guy thought we were going to lose this game."

Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.