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The Braves trailed the Mets 16-13 with two on and two out in the bottom of the 19th, six hours and 51 minutes after the game's rain-delayed start. Rick Camp, the pitcher who had hit his first career home run in the 18th on a two-out, 0-2 pitch to tie the game, came to the plate. The 7,000 or so fans left from a July 4 Fireworks Night crowd of 44,947 in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium started to chant: "We want Camp!" Camp was not amused. "If this team needs me to hit a home run to win a game, it's in trouble," he said. He was right. At 3:55 a.m., E.D.T., Friday, July 5, Ron Darling, pitching in relief for the first time since he was a freshman at Yale, struck out Camp. It was the longest game of the season both in hours and innings, and, as far as anyone knows, it was the latest a major league game has ever ended. "The strangest game I've ever seen," said the Mets' Keith Hernandez, who hit for the cycle.
The game was to have begun at 7:40, but heavy rains delayed the start until 9:04. Another shower in the third inning forced a 41-minute delay, stretching the ordeal to eight hours and 15 minutes from scheduled start to actual finish. Here are some of the highlights after play was resumed:
•Eighth inning: Dale Murphy's two-out, three-run double gives Atlanta an 8-7 lead.
•Ninth: The Mets, who have played 18 games of 17 innings or longer since their inception in 1962, send the game into extra innings with a run off Bruce Sutter.
•12th: Hernandez singles to complete his cycle but goes 0-3 the rest of the way and finishes 4-10.
•13th: Howard Johnson hits a two-run homer off Terry Forster to give the Mets a 10-8 lead. Then, with two outs, Terry Harper nails Tom Gorman's 0-2 pitch for a two-run homer off the leftfield foul screen to make it 10-10.
•17th: Hernandez goes to the clubhouse and phones his brother in San Francisco, where it's midnight. "I told him, 'I wanted you to know it's 3 a.m. and I'm playing baseball. If I have to be up, so do you.' " Meanwhile, Darryl Strawberry and Mets manager Davey Johnson are ejected for arguing a called third strike with home-plate ump Terry Tata. Says Tata: "There aren't any bad calls at 3 a.m."
•18th: The Mets make it 11-10 on Len Dykstra's sac fly, but Camp, a career .062 hitter with five RBIs in 162 at bats before '85, launches a hanging Gorman forkball over the fence in left. It's 11-11. Why is Camp batting? Atlanta has run out of position players.
•Top of the 19th: The Mets explode for five runs off Camp, the gamer a double by Ray Knight, who stranded nine in his first four at bats.
•Bottom of the 19th: The Braves score twice, setting up Camp as the winning run. "When Camp got to the plate," says Johnson, "I jumped in the shower. There's no way I could watch anymore."