Bruce powers Reds past Mets

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Jay Bruce was only constant for Cincinnati on a night in which the Reds' offense came in short bursts.

Bruce capped a three-run first inning with an RBI single, and he homered on the first pitch of the sixth inning to break a tie, lifting the Reds to a 4-3 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Reds (27-18), who won for the eighth time in 10 games, only got three runners further than second base after the first inning.

One of those, of course, was Bruce, who crushed a line drive to right field to make a winner out of Johnny Cueto and cap an odd feast-or-famine duel between starters Cueto and Shaun Marcum.

"Woo, that was a missile," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Bruce's homer.

With his 2-for-4 evening, Bruce extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games, a stretch in which he's hitting an even .400. However, he said he's not doing anything differently than he was earlier in the season.

"I haven't changed anything -- you have to wait, you have to be patient," Bruce said. "You have to let it come to you and be prepared when the opportunity comes to you."

Cueto, who was pitching for the Reds for the first time since suffering a strained right lat on April 13, wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Marlon Byrd in the third.

That was the last hit Cueto allowed, though, as he retired the final eight batters he faced, including six by strikeout. Cueto (2-0) allowed three runs on three hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out eight, one shy of his season high set against the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day.

"He's kind of our anchor," Bruce said of Cueto. "You hand him the ball, and you go out there and have him win."

Aroldis Chapman, the Reds' sixth pitcher, notched his ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth in which he struck out two. He had blown his last two save chances, Thursday against the Miami Marlins and Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Gotta get back on the horse right away," Baker said. "Otherwise it festers and grows."

Brandon Phillips preceded Bruce's first-inning hit with a two-run single. Joey Votto, the reigning NL Player of the Week, had two singles for the Reds.

Marcum became the third NL pitcher to fall to 0-5 -- joining teammate Jeremy Hefner as well as the Dodgers' Josh Beckett -- after giving up all four runs on six hits and one walk in six innings. However, he set down 10 in a row after allowing three runs in a 32-pitch first inning, and he struck out a season-high seven batters in a 104-pitch performance.

"When I'm making a mistake, it's getting hit," Marcum said. "It's not getting fouled off or hit at somebody. It's getting hit over the fence in a gap. Maybe I need to start catching some breaks here, but 104 pitches (and) five mistakes, I'm OK with that."

Lucas Duda had two singles, while Rick Ankiel reached base twice in his home debut for the Mets, who continued to struggle with runners in scoring position. New York stranded four runners at second or third base.

The Mets (17-25) have lost eight of their last 11 games and are just 2-9 at home since April 25.

"We've got to play pretty perfect baseball right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

The Mets suffered from some typical tough luck while falling behind 3-0 in the first. With one out and Shin-Soo Choo on first, Votto hit a one-hopper that bounced off the first base bag and into right field. Votto was awarded second on interference after he bumped into Ike Davis, who had his back to Votto and made no attempt to get out of the way.

The Mets tied the game in the third, when Ankiel singled and David Wright walked before Byrd launched his long homer into the left field seats.

NOTES: Hefner, an Oklahoma native who has family in tornado-ravaged Moore, said after the game that his loved ones were safe and accounted for. ... Collins and Mets RHP LaTroy Hawkins were ejected between the top and bottom of the seventh inning for arguing with plate umpire Tom Hallion, who ruled that Phillips was hit by a pitch when Hawkins' offering appeared to glance off the knob of Phillips' bat. ... Votto hit .583 last week and reached base in nine of his final 11 plate appearances. ... To make room for Cueto on the active roster, the Reds optioned INF Neftali Soto to Triple-A Louisville. Soto made his major league debut with the Reds on Saturday and was hitless in his only plate appearance. ... Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart missed his second straight start due to illness. Cesar Izturis started again and went 0-for-5. ... The Mets signed RHP David Aardsma to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Aardsma recorded 69 saves for the Seattle Mariners from 2009-2010 but underwent hip surgery and Tommy John surgery in 2011 and has made just one big-league appearance (last year with the New York Yankees) since then. Aardsma was released by the Yankees in spring training and by the Marlins last Wednesday. ... Mets RHP Frank Francisco, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in December, has resumed a throwing program. Francisco appeared ready to return to the Mets before suffering a mild elbow strain earlier this month.
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