NEW YORK -- So inconsistent throughout the long summer, the Mets have at least maintained their dominance over the Reds. Rafael Montero continued his second-half renaissance Saturday with five effective innings, and Kevin Plawecki homered to lead the Mets to their fourth straight win, beating Cincinnati, 6-1, at Citi Field.
The victory was the Mets' fourth in six games against the Reds this season, their ninth straight against Cincinnati in Flushing and their 18th in their last 20 games against the Reds overall.
"Unfortunately, it's been a house of horrors for us, at least as long as I can remember here in my tenure," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Citi Field.
Montero's start was not without its hiccups. The right-hander walked five and allowed four hits, all singles. But he stranded eight Reds on base between the second and fifth innings, allowing him to depart at that time with a one-run lead.
"You saw him again tonight where he didn't have his best stuff or best command, but he made pitches when he had to," Plawecki said. "You're going to have nights like that. Credit to him for making pitches when he needed to."
Less effective was Reds starter Homer Bailey, who held the Mets to two early runs before coughing up another in the sixth, then hitting and walking the only two batters he faced in the seventh. Bailey, who posted a 3.00 ERA in his three previous starts, gave up five runs in six-plus innings -- two of them inherited runs that reliever Michael Lorenzen allowed home on a Norichika Aoki single.
Following a 14-game streak where the Reds rotation didn't allow more than three runs, the Mets have roughed up Cincinnati starters two games in a row, also tapping rookie Amir Garrett for four runs on Friday.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Backstop blastoff: Bailey committed a cardinal sin in the bottom of the second, walking Dominic Smith with two outs. That brought up Plawecki, who ripped a two-run homer 408 feet off the facing of the second deck in left field. The Mets never trailed again thanks to the long ball from Plawecki, who has six extra-base hits in 13 games since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas.
"I went back down there with a little chip on my shoulder and went back to work and used it as a time to kind of lock that swing down," Plawecki said. "So when I got back up here, there was no turning back." More >
Missed opportunity: The Reds took an early lead when Scott Schebler hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning, taking advantage of Montero's wildness. They then loaded the bases with two outs, but Phillip Ervin popped up in foul ground to end Cincinnati's most promising scoring threat.
"It really got away from us when we didn't drive in the runs there early in the game," Price said. "We had a lot of opportunities against Montero, and we didn't do anything with them."
"We've gotten some big hits from some young guys, and that's impressive to see. Even though we sit where we sit as far as records go, some of these guys are playing for something. And I think that means something this time of year. They know that all eyes are on them." -- Mets manager Terry Collins, on the success of his young players
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Aoki has hit safely in all seven of his games since joining the Mets, and holds an 11-game hitting streak dating back to his time with the Blue Jays. He's batting .349 during the life of the streak.
SAVE THAT BALL
Mets infielder Phillip Evans ripped a line drive down the left-field line during a pinch-hit appearance in the fifth, hustling into second base for his first career hit. The Mets recalled Evans from Las Vegas prior to Friday's game.
SEVENTH INNING ROAD BLOCK
In his previous start on Monday against the Brewers, Bailey took a shutout into the seventh inning and didn't retire a batter, allowing a home run and two singles en route to a four-run inning. On Saturday, he hit Matt Reynolds and walked Jacob deGrom to set up a three-run Mets inning that put the game out of Cincinnati's reach.
"I've just got to make better pitches there in the seventh," Bailey said. "The ball kind of got away from me. It was a split and the ball came out of my hand funny and I hit that dude. I was trying to get the guy bunting to pop it up and I was kind of rushing there a little bit trying to cover the bunt and stuff like that. It's those little things that end up beating you."
Bailey's season high of 6 2/3 innings came on July 9 at Arizona.
"It hasn't been working out there in the seventh. I've got to figure out a way to do it," Bailey said.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Sal Romano will start the series finale vs. the Mets at Citi Field at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Romano's turn was pushed back a couple of days because of a minor cut to his right index finger from his outing Sunday at Pittsburgh. Expect a lot of hometown support for Romano since he hails from Southington, Conn., and has a large number of family members and friends expected in the crowd.
Mets: deGrom will return to the mound for Sunday's finale, hoping to shake off the nine runs (six earned) he allowed in 3 2/3 innings last time out and seal a four-game sweep. deGrom offered "no excuses" for that outing, vowing to be better Sunday. His career 1.94 ERA in day games is the lowest in the last century among players with at least 200 innings.