The New York Mets’ longest winning streak in 17 years has given them a piece of the NL East lead for the first time in almost three months.
The division co-leaders look to match the franchise’s longest winning stretch as they continue their road series with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
New York (52-44) rallied for a 10-8 win over Cincinnati on Thursday, giving the Mets their first 10-game winning streak since July 1991. It also moved them into a first-place tie with Philadelphia, which opens a road series Friday with the Florida Marlins, who are 1 1/2 games back of the East leaders.
The Mets, who last led the division April 19 and were 6 1/2 games out of first when manager Willie Randolph was fired June 17, haven’t won 11 straight since doing it for the fourth time June 17-29, 1990.
“We’ve been taking such a beating all year long for how we play the game and what we’ve done wrong and what little we’ve done right,” Mets closer Billy Wagner said. “I love seeing guys who told us two weeks ago how bad we stunk, and now they’re going, ‘Well, you’re in first place.’ Yeah.”
David Wright’s two-run homer tied the game and Carlos Delgado singled home the go-ahead run in a four-run ninth Thursday for the Mets, who are hitting .390 while outscoring their opponents 64-27 during the winning streak.
“The guys just kept fighting back,” said manager Jerry Manuel, whose team overcame three blown leads to improve to 18-8 since he replaced Randolph. “They just want this to continue.”
Wright went 2-for-5 with four RBIs, while Delgado and Fernando Tatis each had three hits, a homer and three RBIs. The resurgent Tatis is batting .429 (15-for-35) with four homers and 11 RBIs and Delgado .400 (16-for-40) with three home runs and six RBIs over the last 10 games.
To keep their run going, the Mets will try to get by Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.97 ERA), who is looking for a fourth consecutive victory.
In his most recent start, Arroyo wasn’t as sharp as he has been, allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings of a 12-7 road win over the Chicago Cubs on July 10.
“It’s always nice to five and dive and walk out with a four-run lead after giving up five,” Arroyo told the Reds’ official Web site.
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts against New York and allowed one run in eight innings of a 7-1 road win over the Mets on May 10.
New York counters with John Maine (8-6, 3.99), who has not received a decision in his last two outings. He allowed three runs with two hits while striking out eight and walking five in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-3 win over San Francisco on July 10.
The right-hander was fine after suffering tightness in his right forearm during his previous start, but failed to complete five innings for the second time in three outings.
Maine hasn’t fared well against Cincinnati, going 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in his only two career starts versus the Reds last season.
Dunn, second in the majors with 27 homers, has six and 11 RBIs over his last eight contests. Encarnacion, meanwhile, is 11-for-20 with three home runs in his last five games.