CINCINNATI -- At the Labor Day post and the start of the final stretch of the pennant races, the Mets are showing they are up for contending in September. Monday's 5-0 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park was their third straight win, and they've also won six of eight games and 12 of their past 16. With wins by both the Mets and Cardinals on Monday, New York entered Tuesday one game behind St. Louis for the second National League Wild Card spot.
On a day when manager Terry Collins rested a few New York regulars following overnight travel to Cincinnati, supporting players provided the punch against Reds rookie starter Robert Stephenson. Fresh callup Matt Reynolds hit a solo home run in the third inning and Kelly Johnson cleared the fences with a leadoff shot in the fifth to support a strong start by Bartolo Colon. Three more runs scored in the seventh vs. reliever Alfredo Simon.
Over his six innings, Colon gave up five hits with one walk and two strikeouts. He survived threats in the third and sixth innings, when the Reds had a runner on third base with no outs both times.
"Colon was really rolling good. He really was," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We saw a real masterful pitcher pitch a great game. I saw him when he was a hard-throwing guy when he was throwing 100 [mph]. You can teach a lot of pitchers how to pitch by being able to manage less stuff with really good command and movement."
Cincinnati was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Colon and 0-for-7 with seven left on base overall.
Stephenson gave up two earned runs and five hits with one walk over 5 1/3 innings, while striking out nine batters.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Colon, escape artist: Colon breezed through the Reds' lineup, for the most part, but he did run into some trouble in the third and sixth innings. The third started with hits from Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart to put two in scoring position with no outs, but Colon was able to strike out Stephenson, get Jose Peraza to line out and get a flyout from Zack Cozart. The sixth started with a leadoff triple from Hernan Iribarren, but three flyouts separated by a walk to Joey Votto ended the threat.
"They had second and third, I looked at [bench coach Dick Scott] and I said, 'Well they might get one, but they're not going to get two here,'" Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He just makes pitches and you look at some of the counts, he had 3-2 counts on some guys, but he made a pitch he has to make." More >
Nailed, twice:Wilmer Flores could be spending the evening thinking about Reds left fielder Adam Duvall's arm. Flores tried to stretch a single into a double in the first inning and a double into a triple in the third inning, and he was thrown out both times by Duvall. On the play at second base, Flores popped off the bag during his slide and was tagged by Brandon Phillips following Duvall's perfect throw. The last Reds outfielder with two assists in a game was Jay Bruce on Aug. 5, 2014, at Cleveland. For added measure, Flores was also out at first base on a double play to end the sixth inning after Bruce's line drive to Votto.
"Duvall, I'm a huge fan of his now. He made some awesome plays out there for me," Stephenson said.
Bruce returns: Bruce played his first game at Great American Ball Park since being traded at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline to the Mets. Honored before the game with a video tribute, Bruce went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. In 30 games with the Mets, he has a .202 average with four homers and 32 strikeouts.
"I was just grateful, honestly," Bruce said of the reception. "I didn't think too far past it, other than that. Definitely not something I expected or asked for anything like that. I think if you ask them, we had a really good relationship. A lot of great things happened here with the Reds and myself. I grew from a kid to a man with a family here -- professionally and off the field, as well." More >
Reynolds' return: Recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, Reynolds launched a third-inning homer -- his third of the season and first since Aug. 1 -- that traveled 386 feet with a 101-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. Reynolds was in the lineup to give Jose Reyes his first day off since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 13, due to the quick turnaround following the Mets' late game on Sunday.
"It's the second time he's hit a red eye and hit a homer, so we're going to put him on a red eye and bring him back tomorrow," Collins joked.
"He was going for the cycle. I'll tell you what, he is swinging good." -- Collins, on Flores' two baserunning gaffes in his 3-for-4 game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mets have won a franchise-record 12 straight games vs. Cincinnati dating to Sept. 7, 2014. Monday's victory broke the old team record of 11 consecutive wins vs. the Rockies in '14-15 and the Padres in 1969.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the ninth, Reynolds hit a slow grounder to second baseman Phillips. Charging hard, Phillips barehanded the ball and his throw appeared to narrowly beat Reynolds to first base. The Mets challenged the call, however, and it was overturned, giving Reynolds an infield single for his third hit of the game.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Rafael Montero makes his second start of the season for the Mets in a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. In his previous start, Montero allowed two hits over five scoreless innings, but he walked six batters.
Reds:Brandon Finnegan will make the start vs. New York as he tries to keep a good thing going. Over his past three starts, totaling 20 innings, Finnegan has given up four earned runs and racked up 29 strikeouts, while his opponents are batting .132 (9-for-68). But he was a tough-luck loser vs. the Angels his last time out after giving up two earned runs over seven innings.