Mets steal one from Cincinnati, head off to Canada

Trailing 4-0 after four and a half innings against Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds, the Mets certainly looked like they were going to suffer their third straight defeat yesterday. However, even with Latos pitching well and the National League’s best bullpen waiting in the wings, the Mets rallied all the way back to tie the game, and then they rallied some more. When the dust finally settled, the Mets earned a 9-4 victory to split the short series with the Reds.

After New York starter R.A. Dickey and Latos pitched three scoreless frames each, Joey Votto got the scoring started in the top of the fourth when he slammed a home run off of the Pepsi Porch facing in right field.

Cincinnati kept rolling in the top of the fifth. Dickey starting the inning by hitting Ryan Ludwick with a knuckleball and then issued his first walk of the game against Todd Frazier. Backup catcher Ryan Hanigan followed with a double past center fielder Andres Torres that got Ludwick home and made the score 2-0. Next, Latos hit a sac fly to score Frazier and move Hanigan to third. That allowed Hanigan to score while Zack Cozart was at the plate thanks to what seemed like Mike Nickeas’ hundredth past ball of the day.

Dickey struck out Cozart and Drew Stubbs to end the inning, but the damage had been done. They way Latos was pitching, it seemed a tall order to ask the Mets to come back from a 4-0 deficit. Of course, it didn’t hurt that they were able to cut the lead in half by the end of the fifth inning.

With Andres Torres (single) and David Wright (walk) aboard in the bottom of the fifth, Lucas Duda came to the plate with two outs and a chance to deal some damage. Duda fell behind Latos 1-2, but battled to foul off some pitches and then finally lined a double into right field that allowed both baserunners to score. Suddenly, a win was not so far out of reach.

In the Reds half of the sixth, it looked like Cincinnati would get the runs right back. Votto singled and Bradon Phillips followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. However, the next batter, Jay Bruce hit a foul pop fly down the first base line. What first seemed like a good result for the Mets when Daniel Murphy tracked down the ball for an out turned into a great result when Murphy threw out Votto at the plate when he tried to to tag up and score from third. Dickey got Ludwick to ground out to complete his escape and the Mets were back in business.

Ike Davis led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Ronny Cedeño sneaked a single through the left side of the infield. That was enough for Reds manager Dusty Baker to decide that Latos’ day was done. J.J. Hoover was brought in and the situation got hairier right away when third baseman Frazier misplayed Nickeas’ bunt attempt.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Mike Baxter pinch hit for Dickey and lifted a sac fly to left field on the first pitch he saw. That brought the Mets within one run at 4-3, but Hoover was able to get through the rest of the inning without incident.

In the seventh, the Mets were faced with a new challenge, as Aroldis Chapman, only the most intimidating pitcher in the entire league, entered the game. As has been its mantra all season, New York didn’t try to do too much. Wright led off with a walk and Duda managed a bloop single. Murphy followed with his own blooper to center that bouced off of a sliding Stubbs’ glove for an error.

Once again the bases were loaded, and once again Terry Collins called on a pinch hitter to get a sac fly. Justin Turner came on to hit for the strikeout-prone Davis and hit a fly ball deep enough to score Wright from third. The game was all tied up now, but the Mets would have to wait until later to get more, because Chapman struck out Cedeño and Baxter to end the inning.

With Chapman having thrown 35 pitches to get through the seventh, the Reds brought in righty Logan Ondrusek to pitch the eighth. Unfortunately for Ondrusek, the Mets were so excited about their upcoming Canada trip that they had no intentions of leaving this game up to chance.

Rob Johnson was forced into action because Collins used Scott Hairston to hit for Nickeas in the seventh, and the backstop surprised everyone by placing a perfect bunt down the third base line for an infield single. With one out and Johnson on first, Wright came to the plate and worked a full count before launching a double to center field. The clutch hit ended up giving the Mets the lead when Johnson scrambled all the way around first first to score.

A Turner RBI single and an incredible three-run homer from Cedeño later in the inning were just the icing on a sweet comeback cake for the Mets.

After the game, the Mets put on their hockey jerseys (check the link above) and got ready to jet off to Canada, where they are set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for three games. That series kicks off tonight, with Jon Niese on the mound for New York and Ricky Romero starting for Toronto.

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