Cincinnati (37-32) at New York (43-25)

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  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon Jun 19, 2006
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Looking to improve at home, the NL East-leading New York Mets face one of the league’s best road teams on Monday when they open a four-game set against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Mets (43-25) dropped two of three at Shea Stadium to the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend after winning a season-high eight consecutive games— all on the road. They won the finale against the Orioles 9-4 on Sunday for only their second win in the last six home contests.

“We came back with all the hype and guys were excited coming off the long, successful trip,” said Mets manager Willie Randolph. “They were anxious to go out there, and everybody wants to show the fans what we did on the road.”

New York hosts a Reds team looking to extend its road winning streak to eight games, having outscored opponents 52-25 in the last seven. Cincinnati is second in the NL with a 20-13 road record behind only the Mets’ 23-12 mark.

David Wright hit his third career grand slam in New York’s win on Sunday for his fourth homer in six games. The third baseman has a hit in 11 of the last 12 games, batting .388 (19-for-49) with five homers and 17 RBIs during that stretch.

His performance on Sunday helped Tom Glavine become the first 10-game winner in the majors this season and kept the Mets 9 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies.

The Mets send Orlando Hernandez (4-5, 5.50 ERA) to the mound Monday looking for his first win at Shea since being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a May 24 trade.

El Duque is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts for the Mets. The right-hander has struck out 18 while walking eight over 23 innings, and threw a complete game in a 7-1 win over Arizona on June 8.

Rain cut his last outing short on Wednesday. He yielded two runs and four hits with three strikeouts in three innings of a 9-3 Mets’ win over the Phillies, but was replaced after a one-hour, five-minute delay.

“I feel bad for El Duque, that should have been his win,” Randolph said. “He was kind of cruising a bit. I didn’t want to take a chance of setting him back.”

The 36-year-old Cuban lost his only career start against the Reds, a 9-8 loss on May 7 with Arizona, surrendering eight runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.

The Reds (37-32) will counter with Bronson Arroyo (8-3, 2.51), who had a three-game win streak snapped on Tuesday. He gave up four runs and nine hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, throwing a career-high 127 pitches.

“You always try to take one game at a time,” Arroyo said. “There are 162 games in a season, and you’re going to have spells where you’re going down and down. Momentum works both ways. When you’re losing, it’s easy to keep losing, just like it’s easy to keep winning when you’re winning.”

The Reds are losing right now. They have dropped eight of nine—all at home — including a weekend sweep at the hands of the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

Cincinnati was routed 8-1 by Chicago on Sunday and only managed four hits.

“This is a terrible homestand,” said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. “You see everybody in the stands for the White Sox—they came to support their team. I understand why Reds fans are mad. We’re not being consistent.”

Consistency has been an issue for the Reds as its current struggles were preceded by an eight-game winning streak that put them one-half game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central lead. They are now 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Arroyo Ari vs. O. Hernandez Was
14-11 Record 11-11
3.29 ERA 4.66
184 K 164
64 BB 61
1.19 WHIP 1.33