Like the pyrotechnics Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks used to light up the skies over the Ohio River on Sunday, the Reds have spent the past two days primed to explode.
They just haven’t been able to keep the fuse lit.
After tying their season high by hitting into four double plays in a 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, the Reds went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position during a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Monday.
Bartolo Colon pitched six innings of five-hit ball and Matt Reynolds homered to lead the Mets. Kelly Johnson also went deep as the Mets won for the sixth time in eight games. It was New York’s 12th straight victory over Cincinnati.
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Colon (13-7) improved to 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last seven starts. The Reds put a runner on third with nobody out on two occasions, and Colon wiggled out of the jam each time.
“Colon was rolling pretty good,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Sometimes, you have to tip your hat to the pitcher. Those were situations where a pitcher knows what he’s doing. He did a great job. You saw a real masterful pitcher pitch a great game.”
The victim was rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson, who struck out nine batters in 5 1/3 innings, but also gave up two home runs.
Stephenson, one of Cincinnati’s top prospects, allowed two runs and six hits, but he fell short in his bid to become the first Cincinnati pitcher since Wayne Simpson in 1970 to win each of his first three major league starts.
“It’s just confidence,” the 2011 first-round pick said of his early success. “There’s less pressure. I’m not trying to get back to this level. I’m already here. Now I’m just trying to have fun.”
The 23-year-old Stephenson went 8-9 with a 4.41 earned-run average with Triple-A Louisville this season, but he beat Philadelphia and Colorado in a pair of spot starts in April and picked up on Monday where he left off,.
“He was good,” Price said. “He worked well with (catcher Tucker Barnhart). He commanded the bottom of the zone with his fastball and changeup and threw a handful of breaking balls when he was behind in the count, which you have to do. He did a nice job.”
Stephenson got some help from left fielder Adam Duvall. New York’s Wilmer Flores was thrown out by Duvall trying to stretch hits in each of his first two at bats, at second in the first inning and at third in the fourth. Duvall is the first Cincinnati outfielder with two assists in one game since Jay Bruce on Aug. 5, 2014, at Cleveland, according to the Reds.
“I was a little nervous in the first inning, but after that, I relaxed,” Stephenson said. “I got some great plays from the defense behind me. I’m a big fan of Adam Duvall now.”
New York had a short turnaround after a 5-1 victory over Washington on Sunday night, but Colon traveled to Cincinnati ahead of the team and it looks as if the rest paid off. The Mets began the day just one game back of St. Louis for the second NL wild card.
Jay Bruce went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game in Cincinnati since the Reds traded him to the Mets on Aug. 1.
Reynolds, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas before the game, hit his third homer of the season with one out in the third inning. He also had an RBI single in New York’s three-run seventh and finished with three hits.
Johnson led off the fifth with his 10th homer.
The Mets have hit 18 home runs in their last 11 games at Great American Ball Park and 185 overall this season for their best total since the 2006 team set the franchise record with 200.
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