Encarnacion’s error helps Mets rally past Reds
CINCINNATI (AP)—Ready for an encore, Shea?
One month after they fired their manager, the New York Mets are headed home with a share of first place and a showdown ahead. Their next act comes at Shea Stadium, where they can provide a fitting follow to the ballpark’s farewell concerts by Billy Joel last week.
They’ll face the Phillies in three games for the top spot in the NL East.
Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made a throwing error in the 10th inning that helped the Mets rally for a 7-5 victory Sunday and a split of their four-game series, setting up that showdown for first place.
“It’s a lot better than playing them in Philadelphia,” closer Billy Wagner said. “I hope our fans are ready.”
The Mets seem to be.
Mike Pelfrey gave up an uncharacteristic three homers on Sunday, and the Mets wasted a lot of chances to break the game open before finally rallying in the end. It was typical of how they played throughout the series—overcoming mistakes with grit. They stranded 14 runners, matching their season high, but got just enough of them home.
“We didn’t play good baseball, but we played winning baseball,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
New York has kept it going for the last two weeks, winning 11 of 13. The Mets were 6 1/2 games out when they fired manager Willie Randolph on June 17. One month later, they’re sharing first with the Phillies—while Florida is just a half-game back.
“We’re right there,” said catcher Ramon Castro, who hit a two-run homer. “If we win two of three, we’ll be OK.”
The Mets needed some help to get out of Cincinnati with a split. Encarnacion provided it with his team-leading 16th error.
Pinch-hitter Robinson Cancel opened the 10th with a double off Bill Bray (2-1), his first extra-base hit in the majors since 1999 with Milwaukee. Jose Reyes bunted for a single, his fourth hit of the game.
Argenis Reyes then grounded to Encarnacion, who tried to start a double play. Instead, he threw the ball into right field, letting in the go-ahead run.
“That’s a tough game right there, especially at the end,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “Our defense let us down. We had a chance to get out of it with a double-play ball. That club doesn’t need any help.”
Carlos Delgado finished the rally with a shallow sacrifice fly. Delgado also had three hits and a walk, extending his monthlong surge. The first baseman is batting .419 in July.
“He’s been very good for a while,” Manuel said. “He’s becoming again that dangerous, dangerous hitter that he was in his years with Toronto and his year with Florida.”
Duaner Sanchez (5-1) got the victory with two hitless innings in relief of Pelfrey. Wagner struck out the side in the 10th for his 24th save in 30 chances.
Cincinnati’s all-or-nothing offense put the brakes on Pelfrey, who had won his last six starts and hadn’t allowed a run in 16 innings. Adam Dunn ended that streak at 17 when he led off the second with a homer. Seven of Dunn’s last eight hits have been homers.
Encarnacion and Brandon Phillips also had solo shots off Pelfrey, who had given up only four homers all season before coming to one of the majors’ most homer-prone ballparks.
“It’s definitely not a good place to make a mistake,” said Pelfrey, who gave up six hits—half of them homers—in seven innings on a 90-degree afternoon. “I had that 4-1 lead early, and I gave it back. But I pitched into the seventh. I thought that was good, and we won.”
The split wasn’t satisfying for the Reds, who also blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the series opener.
“It’s frustrating,” Dunn said. “We had a chance to win all four. We’re getting good pitching, they’re keeping us in games and we’re driving in runners when we should. Those two games we lost were tough ones to lose.”
The Mets failed to take full advantage of an off day by Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez. The right-hander was coming off his first All-Star appearance—he gave up a two-run homer to MVP J.D. Drew at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday—and couldn’t get his pitches where he wanted.
Volquez gave up a two-run shot by Castro in the third inning. It was the sixth homer Volquez has allowed this season, and only the second at Great American Ball Park.
Reyes’ four-hit day included a triple, his 63rd with the Mets, moving one ahead of Mookie Wilson for the franchise record. … 2B Luis Castillo is expected to resume baseball-related workouts in Florida on Monday. Castillo has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a strained left hip. … Reds OF Jay Bruce extended his hitting streak to nine games, the best of his rookie season. … The only other homer that Volquez has allowed at Great American Ball Park was hit by Cleveland’s Michael Aubrey on May 18.