The best news for the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night came before the first pitch … scheduled pitcher Max Scherzer was not going to pitch.
Neck spasms forced the man the New York Mets are paying $43.3 million to miss his turn.
And the Reds celebrated by abusing Scherzer’s stand-in, David Peterson, for four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. And they continued their assault against relief pitcher Stephen Nogosek for three more in 1 2/3 innings for a 7-1 lead.
Then they hung on under a home-run barrage by the Mets the rest of the way to squeeze out a 7-6 victory in Great American Ball Park.
Reds starter Luke Weaver struggled to hold off the Mets, who have lost 12 of their last 15 games.
He gave up a pair of home runs to No. 9 hitter and 21-year-old catcher Francisco Alvarez. That was it through six innings, a 7-2 Reds lead.
The Mets scored two in the seventh when Pete Alonso hit his league-leading 12th home run and when Weaver walked Brett Baty his night was done. Baty scored when Mark Canha hit into a no-out bases-loaded double play and it was 7-4.
The Mets crept ever-so-closer with two runs in the eighth. Derek Law hit Brandon Nimmo with a pitch and Francisco Lindor dropped one into the upper deck, the Mets fourth homer and they were within 7-6.
And when the put two men on base with two outs, manager David Bell went to closer Alexis Diaz. He walked Daniel Vogelbach to fill the bases, then snuffed the rally by striking out pinch-hitter Luis Guillorme on a pitch that kicked up a dust storm at home plate.
Diaz saved his team an embarrassing defeat with a 1-2-3 ninth. He struck out Alvarez, he of the two home runs, struck out Nimmo on called strike three on a full count and ended it on a weak ground ball by Lindor. It was Diaz’s seventh save in seven opportunities.
The Reds constructed their 7-1 lead with a run in the first, two in the second, one in the fourth and three in the fifth … then shut it down as the Mets came barging back.
Jonathan India led off the Reds’ first with a double and scored on Tyler Stephenson’s two-out single, ending the Reds’ streak of 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
Kevin Newman opened the second sixth with a walk and took third on TJ Friedl’s single. Friedl stole second. Newman scored on India’s ground ball and Friedl scored on Nick Senzel’s single.
The Reds added a run in the fourth on Luke Maile’s double and India’s double and it was 4-1 after New York’s Alvarez homered in the top of the third.
The three runs that it turned out that the Reds needed came in the fifth. Wil Myers and Newman both reached on infield hits. New York manager Buck Showalter was ejected when he vehemently argued that Myers interfered with shortstop Lindor’s chance to make a play on Newman’s grounder.
As soon as Showalter hit the tunnel headed for the clubhouse, Friedl tripled to right for two runs and then scored on India’s sacrifice fly. It was 7-1 and time to hold on tight.
The Mets had only seven hits, four of them home runs. The Reds put together 10 early hits, two each by Senzel and Friedl. Friedl drove in two and scored two.
If he doesn’t come down with neck spasms, Justin Verlander, the Mets’ $30 million (this year) pitcher will face Hunter Greene in the second game of the three-game series Wednesday night.
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