THE New York Mets bullpen wasn’t as convincing as fans wanted it to be on Wednesday night, but K-Rod, Putz and co had just enough to get the job done.
The Mets made hard work of the Cincinatti Reds in the second of a three-game opening series as they edged out a 9-7 victory with the bases loaded.
It wasn’t a game for the purists from start to finish and both starting pitchers ran into difficulties, but the Mets brought just enough offense to the yard to squeeze out a narrow win.
The Mets trailed 4-2 after the 1st inning, but they plated three runs in the 5th and another four in the 7th to take a 9-4 lead.
The Reds scored twice in the bottom of the 7th inning and one in the 8th to make it 9-7, but closer Francisco Rodriguez escaped a bases-loaded jam to record the save.
Starting the game, Edison Volquez retired the first two batters he faced, but he walked David Wright on five pitchers and left a 1-1 fastball low and inside to Carlos Delgado who turned on it and crushed it to right field.
But the Mets’ lead was short-lived as Mike Pelfrey struggled through a 44-pitch first inning as the Cincinatti Reds batted around and plated four runs at the Great American Ballpark.
Pelfrey came out throwing fastball after fastball, offering up a single to Jerry Hairston Jnr, a walk to Chris Dickerson and a line drive home run to Joey Votto.
Brandon Phillips doubled off the wall in right-centre field and advanced to third base on Jay Bruce’s groundout.
Edwin Encarnacion then walked to put men on the corners, but Jose Reyes threw away a certain double play ball as Phillips scored from third.
Ramon Hernandez chopped it weakly up the middle to Luis Castillo who flipped it to Reyes for the force. But Reyes’ throw to Delgado was in the dirt and, although it looked like a play the first baseman should make, it skipped all the way to the dugout to bring home a run.
The Reds had a chance to extend their lead in the 3rd inning, but Pelfrey escaped more trouble. He walked Phillips to start the inning and balked him over to second. Bruce then narrowly missed hitting one out of the park before flying out to deep centre field.
Edwin Edcarnacion could only pop up to Castillo with one out, holding the runner at third and Ramon Hernandez hit a soft fly ball to Ryan Church in right field to end the threat.
It was the Mets turn to put ducks on the pond in the 4th inning but, like the Reds in the home half of the previous frame, failed to put anybody across.
Church lined a two-out double down the line in left field and Volquez walked Schneider and Castillo to bring Pelfrey to the plate.
The Red’s starter fell behind his opposite number 2-1 and 3-2 but got him to hit a weak grounder to third base to keep the 4-2 lead intact.
A similar situation arose in the 5th inning, but this time the Mets made their chance count.
Reyes hit an 0-2 fastball back through the box for a single to centre field and Daniel Murphy slapped one past the diving Encarnacion to left.
Wright then hit a grounder straight at Alex Gonzalez but the shortstop, who had a limited view of the ball coming towards him as Reyes took his lead off of second base, bobbled the play as all runners were safe.
Delgado worked the count full and brought home Reyes on a softly-hit ground ball to Joey Votto at first base as Volquez crossed the 100-pitch mark and the following batter Beltran laced a two-rbi single up the middle to knock Volquez out of the game.
The Reds had a chance to respond immediately in the bottom of the 5th inning when they put Votto and Bruce on the corners with two outs – just their second and third baserunners since they batted around in the 1st inning.
With Encarnacion batting, Bruce tried to steal second base but got caught in a run down. As Bruce backtracked towards first, Votto broke for home but got tagged out by Schneider on the throw from Castillo.
Mets Bobby Parnell pitched around a pair of two-out walks to see the Reds did not level things up and the Mets added an insurance run in the top of the 7th.
David Wright lined a double to left field and beat the throw home on Delgado’s RBI single.
Delgado advanced to second on the play and Mike Lincoln intentionally walked Beltran to get to Church.
But Church walked to load the bases up again and Brian Schneider cleared them off with a 3RBI double to make it 9-4.
Votto scored the Reds’ fifth run on a groundout in the bottom of the 7th against Pedro Feliciano and Ramon Hernandez cut the lead to three with an RBI single off the wall in right centre.
Chris Dickerson’s sac fly scored Willy Taveras who had hit a one-out triple, but JJ Putz worked around the hit to hand K-Rod a two-run lead.
Rodriguez walked Phillips but got Jay Bruce to pop up. Encarnacion grounded out to Wright who threw on to first base, but Delgado’s foot left the base early as he tried to throw Phillips out as he rounded second and slid into third.
With men on first and third, Rodriguez walked Hernandez, struck out Gonzalez on a high fastball and got Lance Nix on a deep fly ball to the warning track.
Other notes: Luis Castillo was the only Mets starter not to get a base hit, Reds’ Joey Votto went 3/4 with three RBI, a walk and two runs and Jerry Hairston Jnr had to leave the game after fouling a ball off his foot in the 4th inning.