ST. LOUIS--Darryl Strawberry's mammoth home run in the top of the 11th inning led the New York Mets to a 1-0 victory over the first-place St. Louis Cardinals last night before a capacity crowd at Busch Memorial Stadium.
The loss reduced St. Louis' lead in the National League East to two games. The two teams will resume their three-game series tonight.
Starting pitchers John Tudor and Ron Darling locked up in a classic scoreless duel with Darling hurling nine shutout frames and Tudor hanging up 10 goose eggs before departing for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 10th.
Losing pitcher Ken Dayley got two quick outs in the 11th before the lean Met rightfielder blasted the south-paw's 1-1 offering off the scoreboard in deepest right-centerfield. Strawberry's towering blow was was his 28th home run of the season.
Jesse Orosco (8-6) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory and survived a dropped fly ball in the bottom of the 11th.
Until Strawberry's clout, the closest either team had come to scoring was during the Met seventh, when a Ray Knight single and a Rafael Santana double left men at second and third with one out. Darling missed a suicide squeeze bunt and pinch-runner Howard Johnson was tagged out at home. Darling popped up to end the inning.
Tonight, two 20-game winners hook up in the second contest of the three-game series. Dwight Gooden (23-4) goes for the Mets against Joaquin Andujar (21-10).
Gooden, who leads the Major Leagues in victories, earned run average, and strikeouts has not allowed an earned run since late August.
Rookie Rick Aguilera (10-6) is expected to pitch Thursday for the Mets against Cardinal right-hander Danny Cox (16-9)