Mets 6, Reds 2
CINCINNATI (AP)—One so-so sinker to the Mets’ hottest hitter took everything out of Danny Graves.
Steve Trachsel (8-5) pitched six innings on a humid, 90-degree evening, keeping it scoreless until Graves faltered first.
“In the seventh, they just hit them were nobody was,” Graves said.
The heat got to Ken Griffey Jr., who felt dizzy during pregame warmups and was a late scratch from the Reds lineup. The conditions were right for Graves’ sinker, which produced 11 groundouts in the first six innings.
The closer turned starter allowed only one runner through six, hitting Burnitz in the back as he tried to come up-and-in on a two-strike pitch in the first inning.
The majors’ worst defense made five impressive plays to keep the no-hitter going until the seventh, when Graves (4-8) walked leadoff hitter Jay Bell. Burnitz hit the first pitch to the wall in left-center for a 1-0 lead.
“Danny was really pitching lights-out,” said Burnitz, who had a homer and three hits in the Mets’ 7-2 win Friday. “Fortunately I just put a good swing on a sinker away. The pitch I hit was a pretty good pitch.”
The Mets’ first hit changed everything.
“It’s an emotional thing a lot of times for a pitcher,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “It just seems like all the emotion changes for them after that one hit. Their concentration level slips, and that’s all it takes at this level.”
Cliff Floyd then doubled off a sloppy sinker for another run and took third on Ty Wigginton’s bunt single. Wigginton alertly stole second when none of the Reds covered the base or called timeout after Jason Phillips’ flyout to shallow left, and both runners scored on Vance Wilson’s single.
Just that fast, Graves went from pondering a no-hitter to facing another loss.
“I was aware of it, but I didn’t think about it because they easily could have had three or four hits or more,” Graves said. “It’s just that there were so many unbelievable plays. Being a sinkerball pitcher, my job is to get groundballs. That last inning, I got a couple of balls up.”
Burnitz doubled again in the ninth and Floyd hit his 15th homer off Chris Reitsma.
Trachsel gave up four hits and one walk in six innings, extending his surge. The right-hander is 4-1 in his last five starts with a 1.50 ERA.
He came out after warming up for the seventh, done in by the heat and a mound that made him use his legs to keep his split-finger fastball down.
“I can’t remember when I’ve thrown off a mound that flat,” Trachsel said. “I had to work hard to keep the ball down. That’s probably another reason I tired out.”
A capacity crowd of 41,020 cheered one sensational defensive play after another, then turned glum as Graves faded and the Reds headed for their 10th loss in 14 games.
Cincinnati fell five games under .500 (40-45) for the first time since May 4, when they were 13-18.
Graves made his second consecutive start in three days’ rest, part of the Reds’ shift to a four-man rotation. The quick turnarounds have invigorated his nastiest pitch—a sinker that works best when his arm’s a little tired.
The Reds kept him out of trouble by turning nice plays on four consecutive grounders in the early innings.
Larkin took another hit from Phillips in the fifth, going several steps intothe outfield to glove his grounder and throw him out from the hole.
It was the eighth regular-season sellout at Great American Ball Park. … The Mets haven’t been no-hit since Sept. 8, 1993, when Houston’s Darryl Kile did it. … OF Roger Cedeno was a late scratch from the Mets lineup because of a strained right triceps. Timo Perez took his place. … SS Jose Reyes was out of the lineup for a third consecutive game because of a tight hamstring. … Reds C Jason LaRue had tests on his left shoulder that found nothing more serious than a bruise. He was hit by a pitch last Sunday, and aggravated it while making a tag on Friday. He’s expected to sit out a fewgames.