NEW YORK -- Before the game, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker shook his head. A life-long student of the game as a player and manager, he was as stumped as an average fan on some questions.
He pointed to how the New York Mets had scored 29 runs against an impressive Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff in a three-game sweep entering the weekend, then struggled against the Reds in the first two games.
"Weird ..." Baker said.
His team then added to the weirdness, shutting down the Mets again with a 3-1 win Sunday to finish off a three-game sweep. The Mets managed five runs in the series.
Of course, it's not all that odd for the NL Central leaders to win these days, this time behind seven strong innings from Johnny Cueto (8-3), and a three-run fifth inning.
Wilson Valdez and Brandon Phillips had RBI singles for the Reds, who won their sixth in a row.
Lefty Sean Marshall pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn his ninth save of the season, getting pinch-hitter Scott Hairston on a fielder's choice with two on and two outs in the eighth before pitching a perfect ninth.
The loss left the Mets sandwiching their sweep of the Rays by getting swept by the Yankees and Reds.
Cueto was helped by impressive defense. The highlight was a double play in the sixth in which second baseman Phillips flipped the ball between his legs -- on the run -- to shortstop Zack Cozart, who made a nice spin on his throw to first.
Cueto allowed six hits while striking out eight, and only gave up one run. That one came after he appeared to work himself out of a jam.
After allowing three consecutive one-out singles to Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Josh Thole, Cueto retired No. 8 hitter Andres Torres on a fly to shallow center for the second out, keeping the bases loaded.
But Cueto then walked Mets starter Chris Young to force in a run and give the Mets a 1-0 lead, before striking out Kirk Nieuwenhuis to end the inning.
Young (1-1) didn't fare much worse than Cueto, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits in seven innings, but the Reds put together enough offense in the fifth to give them another victory.
Cozart doubled to lead off the inning and Valdez singled him in to tie the game, 1-1. After an intentional walk to Joey Votto, Phillips singled to right, scoring Valdez before right fielder Lucas Duda's throwing error allowed Votto to score to make it 3-1.
NOTES: Mets left fielder Jason Bay's timetable for his return from the concussion sustained Friday night is uncertain. Manager Terry Collins said "anything's possible" when asked if Bay could miss the rest of the season. Bay was told to stay home during the weekend, but will likely see a doctor Monday, Collins said. ... SS Ruben Tejada (strained right quadriceps) will make his first rehab appearance Monday for Class AAA Buffalo, Collins said. ... Reds third baseman Scott Rolen (strained left shoulder) should rejoin the Reds on Monday as long as there was no lingering pain from a pair of rehab appearances this weekend, manager Dusty Baker said. ... Outfielder Chris Heisey pinch-hit Sunday after missing the past two games because of a tight left groin. Baker had said before the game Heisey could play, but indicated he wouldn't use him until the next series against the Cleveland Indians. ... SS Omar Quintanilla was moved up to the second spot in the order because manager Terry Collins said he has liked his patience and discipline at the plate. Quintanilla, who has been filling in at short after injuries to Ruben Tejada and Ronny Cedeno, entered the game with a .393 on-base percentage.