Just when it looked like the Reds’ long Mets-mare was about to end, Yoenis Cespedes emphatically kept it alive.
The New York left fielder blasted a Michael Lorenzen (2-1) 2-2 pitch over the center field fence for a two-run home run in the seventh inning that turned a 3-2 Cincinnati lead into a 4-3 deficit on the way to a 5-3 loss — the Reds 13th straight to the Mets.
The one-team losing streak is reaching historic proportions. It’s Cincinnati’s longest-ever against the Mets and the Reds’ longest against any team since dropping 16 straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks from May 8, 2001 to Aug. 13, 2003.
The Mets overcame a gritty pitching effort by Cincinnati left-hander Brandon Finnegan and Adam Duvall’s two-run home run to improve their baseball-best winning percentage by opposing teams at Great American Ball Park to .659 (29-15).
Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a one-out infield single up the middle that he just beat out after shortstop Zack Cozart came up with a diving stop on the grass just behind second base. Cespedes followed with his 28th homer of the season, New York’s third home run of the game.
“(Lorenzen) came in and threw some great pitches,” manager Bryan Price said. “Cabrera hits that one up the middle and Cozart turns it into a bang-bang play at first base. Then Cespedes does what he can do.”
Alejandro De Aza led off the ninth with a pinch-hit homer against Blake Wood, extending to 26 the franchise record for most home runs allowed to the first batters faced by relief pitchers. The last bullpen to allow more than 26 was Colorado’s in 2001, which allowed 27.
Mets manager Terry Collin called on six relief pitchers over the final 4 2/3 innings to limit the Reds to three runs. They got help from Brandon Phillips, who was thrown out easily at second base trying to stretch a sharply lined single to the left field wall with two outs and the Reds trailing by a run in the eighth.
For the second time in two days, Hernan Iribarren came up with a pinch-hit leadoff triple. Unlike Monday, when he was stranded at third in the sixth, the Reds were able to convert the latest opportunity, but only after Iribarren was nailed on the left foot by a vicious line drive smacked by Jose Peraza. Iribarren scored the run that snapped a 2-2 fifth-inning tie on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly to former teammate Jay Bruce in right field.
Bruce, who went into the game hitting .202 with four home runs and 10 RBIs over his first 30 games with the Mets since being traded by the Reds on Aug. 1, slipped to 0-for-6 with three strikeouts in his first two games against his former team before lining a single to left field in the sixth. He went to second when Duvall misplayed the ball for an error, but he was stranded, and he grounded into a double play to end the Mets’ seventh.
Finnegan, who used 84 pitches to navigate through seven innings of his previous start last Wednesday at Anaheim, needed 105 to get through five Tuesday in a game that started with the thermometer hovering at 85 degrees. He allowed three hits, including solo homers to Curtis Granderson in the second inning and Jose Reyes in the third, and four walks with six strikeouts.
“Not sharp early, but over the last couple of innings, much better,” was Price’s assessment. “He was a little jumpy. He’s really smoothed out his delivery lately, but he was a little jumpy today. It wasn’t his best night, but he battled.”
“They were spitting on a lot of good pitches tonight,” Finnegan said. “I got into a lot of deep counts, but I was able to get out of them. I was lucky to get out with just two runs tonight.”
Duvall became the sixth player in franchise history whose primary position is left field to hit at least 30 home runs in a season with his game-tying, two-run drive off Mets right-hander Rafael Montero that bounced off the top of the right-center wall and into the seats with two outs in the third. The homer was his first since Aug. 27 at Arizona and first in Cincinnati since Aug. 20 against the Dodgers.
Duvall has hit 28 homers as a left fielder and one each while playing right field and first base.
The other Reds left fielders with seasons of at least 30 home runs are George Foster, Adam Dunn, Greg Vaughn, Hank Sauer and Kevin Mitchell.