Down early, Mets rise up late to upend Reds

Down early, Mets rise up late to upend Reds

Down early, Mets rise up late to upend Reds
NEW YORK -- Somehow, the Mets' charmed run at home can continue. New York appeared to be on the verge of its first losing homestand of the season on Thursday, but the Mets forged a five-run rally in the eighth inning to take their first advantage and earn a 9-4 victory over Cincinnati.

New York scored nine unanswered runs Thursday, a result keyed by another standout performance from third baseman David Wright. Wright reached base five times Thursday and registered his sixth game-winning RBI of the season -- tied for most in the Majors -- on a double in the eighth inning.

That star turn came on a day when Wright was ill, but more importantly, it allowed the Mets to go 2-2 at home this week. New York only had a winning record for three homestands last year, but it has notched a winning mark in three of its first four homestands and owns a 12-8 record at Citi Field.

"When you face [Yovani] Gallardo, [Zack] Greinke, [Mat] Latos and [Mike] Leake ... 2-2 isn't so bad," said Wright. "This stretch has been crazy with the starting pitching we've seen, starting in Philadelphia with [Roy] Halladay and [Cliff] Lee, all the way through this series. It's not going to get any easier. We're grinding out at-bats, we're playing good baseball and it's nice to be able to add some runs late. Especially for our bullpen. It gives them a little bit of a breather and a little bit of a cushion."

And on this day, it meant a reversal of fortune. The Mets (21-17) had seen their bullpen post an 8.69 ERA in their last seven games, and they notched two rallies Thursday against two pitchers -- Aroldis Chapman and Logan Ondrusek -- who each had a 0.00 ERA coming into the game.

The Reds (19-18) made a key error in the seventh to help the Mets, but New York peppered Ondrusek all over the park in the eighth. Rob Johnson set up the rally with a one-out bunt, and Wright doubled him in on a shot to center field for a 5-4 lead. The home team didn't stop there, and the inning didn't end until after Justin Turner had a run-scoring single and Ronny Cedeno hit a three-run home run.

Johnson hadn't played since Sunday due to a thumb injury, and he dropped the bunt down because he didn't feel comfortable taking a full cut at the plate. That play wound up keying the go-ahead rally, and manager Terry Collins said after the game that he was pleased with his team's resilience.

"They don't get down when they lose tough games like [Wednesday] night or the night before," said Collins. "They just know they have to come out and play. Because of the way the lineup's playing right now, everybody knows they're going to have a piece of it. It doesn't matter if you start the game or not. You know you're going to be involved in it, so they stay ready, they watch [and] they prepare."

Both teams had trouble getting their offense going early, as Latos and R.A. Dickey both threw three shutout innings to start the game. Cincinnati broke through on a Joey Votto home run in the fourth and added three more runs in the fifth, and the Mets spent the rest of the game catching up.

Dickey hit one batter with a pitch and allowed a single in the fateful fifth, and catcher Ryan Hanigan drove home one run with a double off the base of the wall in center field. Latos drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, and Hanigan came steaming home on a passed ball.

"It certainly does make for entertaining baseball," said Dickey. "It makes for a good clubhouse environment when you know you have guys that all they want to do is contribute. Whether it's laying down a bunt or pinch-running, whatever it's going to take to get us where we need to be. That's what you saw tonight. I thought that was kind of the paradigm for what our team has been all year."

The Mets trailed by four runs when they came up in the bottom of the fifth, and Wright -- suffering from flu-like symptoms -- drew a two-out walk against Latos. Lucas Duda made Latos pay with a two-run double, and the Mets kept the game close by making a highlight-reel defensive play.

Cincinnati pushed runners to second and third with no outs in the sixth, when Jay Bruce lifted a popup into foul ground in short right field. Second baseman Daniel Murphy made the catch with his back to the plate, then whirled and threw a perfect one-hop throw to cut down Votto at the plate.

Wright is hitting .411, and he's the first big leaguer to be hitting that high this late in the year since Chipper Jones batted .414 through June 12, 2008. Wright also has a .513 on-base percentage, and Collins said that his teammates have followed his lead through his torrid stretch.

"I'll tell you what I'm seeing: What David's doing compares to [Barry] Bonds the year he was in Pittsburgh," he said. "He hits fifth in the lineup, and really not a lot of big bombers behind him. All he kept doing was when you threw him strikes, kept getting hits. Otherwise, he took his base on balls."

Still, Wright needed plenty of help, and Cincinnati may have taken a lead deeper into the game if not for the defensive play made by Murphy in the sixth.

"It was huge in the moment," said Dickey. "It certainly preserved the score to be what it was, and that was big. That kind of gave me a boost and was a real pick-me-up.

"I think what's really special about today's game is that people are going to talk about David, because what he's doing is mythical, it seems. And I don't want to take away from that. But you've got Rob Johnson, who can't hardly swing a bat laying down a perfect bunt. ... Everybody's playing a part, and that's why we're able to come back after tough losses like [Wednesday] night. It's been really neat."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.