CINCINNATI -- As they look for help in chasing down the Giants and Cardinals in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot, the Mets have done their part to keep the pressure applied. A 6-3 victory over the Reds on Wednesday meant a three-game series sweep for New York, five straight victories and wins in 14 of its past 18 games.
And with St. Louis' 4-3 loss in Pittsburgh, the Mets pulled even with the Cardinals in the NL's second Wild Card spot. Both clubs are only a half-game behind out of the top Wild Card slot, held by the Giants, who lost 6-5 in walk-off fashion in Colorado.
It was a 5-0 lead for the Mets until the eighth inning. Jose Reyes got them started by hitting the first pitch of the game from Anthony DeSclafani for a home run to right field.
In the third inning, a two-out fielding error by shortstop Jose Peraza on Yoenis Cespedes' ground ball opened the door to another run. DeSclafani threw a wild pitch and was late covering the plate for a throw as Reyes easily scored.
"Obviously, I have to be better on that," DeSclafani said. "I guess I just misjudged it. No excuse, I've got to get to home plate. I didn't think it went that far back."
Leading off the sixth inning, Curtis Granderson slugged a homer to right-center field that gave the Mets a three-run lead. That was enough space for Noah Syndergaard, who lacked command and labored for five scoreless innings. He allowed six hits and four walks, striking out seven while throwing 95 pitches. After his departure, Wilmer Flores added on with a pinch-hit two-run homer to center field in the eighth against lefty reliever Wandy Peralta.
"Obviously, [it] wasn't like what we've been seeing," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Syndergaard's outing. "I don't know if it was the weather, but command was not there today of pretty much any of his pitches."
Mets pitchers didn't have an easy afternoon as the Reds put runners on base in every inning. But Cincinnati went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 12 stranded.
DeSclafani pitched six innings and gave up three runs (two earned), seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Three runs in the eighth against the Mets bullpen came after the Reds loaded the bases with no outs on Gabriel Ynoa. Tucker Barnhart's one-out RBI single off of Addison Reed ended the shutout bid before Peraza's two-out double added two more runs. But Cincinnati got no closer and has dropped eight of its past 10 games, as well as 14 in a row against New York, dating back to Sept. 7, 2014.
"It's a good lineup," DeSclafani said of the Mets. "They've played some pretty good ball the past few days here. It seems like they're swinging the bat well at a good time, trying to go for the playoffs. I wish we could have held them to less runs and gave ourselves more of a chance. It's a tough series, but hopefully we get back on track against Pittsburgh and try to finish the season strong."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Peraza pours on the hits: On the offensive side, Peraza resumed his tear after coming off of an 0-for-4 game on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two singles. His two-run double off the left-field wall with the bases loaded in the eighth was inches away from being a game-tying grand slam and made it a two-run game. Since he was recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 20, Peraza is batting .484 (30-for-62) in his past 17 games with 10 multihit games and three four-hit games -- his career high. More >
Thor brings the hammer: Though Syndergaard kept things scoreless, it wasn't an easy outing for the 24-year-old righty. The Reds managed a runner on third with one out in the first, but he managed two big strikeouts against Joey Votto and Adam Duvall to escape. Again in the fourth, Cincinnati got a runner in scoring position with one out, but Syndergaard was able to strike out the bottom of the order to escape. More >
Running into outs: The Reds made three early outs on the bases that took them out of opportunities. In the second inning after his leadoff single, Brandon Phillips was thrown out trying to steal second base. Scott Schebler then walked and also tried to take second base. Schebler appeared on his way to steal before he inexplicably slowed, went in standing up and was tagged out. In the third inning with runners on the corners, Peraza broke for home when Eugenio Suarez drew a throw to first base. Peraza was thrown out at home in a collision with catcher Rene Rivera.
"Schebler not sliding, he thought he heard the ball being fouled off. I don't know," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Obviously, a missed opportunity there. Geno breaking early on a straight steal of second base, getting picked off. It was a good opportunity for us to score because the third baseman was so far off the line. If they throw through, it's easy for Peraza to score. Instead, we end up running into an out at the plate. It was just bad baseball."
Great American Small Park: The homers from Reyes, Granderson and Flores made it nine home runs for the Mets in the three-game series, giving the club 95 homers on the road this season and 192 overall. Reyes' blast, which traveled 391 feet with a 98-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™, was his sixth of the year and the 24th of his career to lead off a game, 19th as a Met. Flores launched his first career pinch-hit homer and tied his career high at No. 16 this season. With the win, the Mets improved to 64-36 when they hit a homer, compared to 10-30 when they don't.
"The year [Reyes] won the batting title, it was more line drives and less fly balls, but he's working it," Collins said. "I don't know if his time in Colorado changed him at all, but we always knew he's got a little pop in his bat. But I'll tell you, when he hits them, they're gone."
"When you're [this] far under .500, to have regular games like this as a regular part of what we're doing would make it a way more challenging season than it already is. Guys, for the most part, have really played hard and played relatively to their ability and sometimes beyond. Today will be something we don't see for a long time. I'm confident in that. This isn't our typical game by any means. We will certainly play better in Pittsburgh." -- Price, about his team's mental and physical mistakes on Wednesday
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Granderson hit a grounder to shortstop Peraza and was called safe at first base by umpire Joe West. The Reds challenged the call and it was overturned for the third out when the replay showed the throw beat Granderson by a half-step.
In the eighth, after James Loney took first base on a hit-by-pitch, the Reds challenged that the ball missed the batter. Upon review, it was determined that the call stands.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: After more than two straight weeks with a game, the Mets have an off-day on Thursday before starting a three-game series in Atlanta on Friday. Rookie right-hander Robert Gsellman will take the mound for the 7:35 p.m. ET first pitch for his third career start. In his previous two outings, Gsellman is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA.
Reds: A brief four-game road trip to Pittsburgh gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday, with Dan Straily starting the opener for the Reds vs. the Pirates. The Reds are 5-6 vs. the Pirates this season with a tight run differential that has them trailing, 40-39, in the 11 games.