The New York Mets had spent the past three months looking up in the standings, and after finally climbing to the top of the NL East, promptly relinquished first place.
The Mets look to bounce back from their first loss in two weeks and try to regain a share of the division lead when they face the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
New York (52-45) went on a 10-game winning streak to pull into a first-place tie with Philadelphia atop the East on Thursday, the first time the Mets had occupied that spot since April 19.
Their stay atop the division didn’t last long, as their longest winning streak since July 1991 was snapped with a 5-2 loss to the Reds (47-51) on Friday. It was New York’s first defeat since losing 3-2 to Philadelphia on July 4, and the Phillies pulled a game ahead of the Mets with a 4-2 win over Florida on Friday.
New York averaged 6.4 runs and batted .323 during its winning streak, but managed only four hits Friday.
“They continued to battle right to the end,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “They deserve a big pat on the back. But we’ve got work ahead.”
Cincinnati’s lineup wasn’t much better Friday, but it was efficient and did just enough. The Reds scored four times in the fifth inning despite getting only two balls out of the infield. Ken Griffey Jr. drew a bases-loaded walk, Brandon Phillips hit a two-run bloop single into shallow right field and Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
New York’s Oliver Perez (6-5, 4.44 ERA) looks to help the Mets avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since June 27-28 when he takes the ball Saturday against one of his favorite opponents.
Perez has a 0.90 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 20 innings over his last three starts, but has recorded only one win in those games. He hasn’t gotten much offense to work with, as he’s been backed by two total runs of support in his last two starts.
On July 11, Perez allowed one run and two hits with seven strikeouts, but also walked six in six innings of a 2-1 victory over Colorado. He didn’t factor in the decision.
While Perez has struggled to get in the win column lately, the left-hander has had no trouble beating Cincinnati.
Perez has won his last four starts versus the Reds and is 9-1 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts against them since the start of the 2004 season. His nine career victories over Cincinnati are his most against any opponent.
The left-hander allowed three runs and three hits with eight strikeouts in six innings of an 8-3 win over the Reds on May 11.
Cincinnati won for the fifth time in six games at Great American Ball Park on Friday after losing seven of its previous eight there.
The Reds’ Josh Fogg (1-2, 7.94) takes the mound Saturday in his third start since being activated from the disabled list with back spasms. Fogg has a 3.18 ERA over his last two starts, but is seeking his first victory since April 9.
On July 11, Fogg allowed three runs and one hit with a season-high six strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win over Washington, but didn’t get the decision.
The right-hander won both his starts against the Mets last season while with the Rockies, although he posted a 4.85 ERA in those games. Fogg, a teammate of Perez’s with Pittsburgh from 2003-05, is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA in seven starts versus New York.