Jesse Winker homered off All-Star closer Edwin Diaz with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the New York Mets 5-4 on Monday night after wasting a four-run lead.
Left-handed batters had been 0 for 15 this year against Diaz (0-1) before Winker drove a fastball over the right-center field fence for his career-high eighth home run, the most by a Reds player this season. Winker was hitting cleanup for the first time this year.
Diaz was pitching for the third straight day for the first time this season.
It was a rare night of success against New York for Cincinnati, which had lost 26 of its last 34 games against the Mets, including 13 of 16 at Citi Field.
Raisel Iglesias (1-3) pitched two innings, striking out his last four batters.
Cincinnati, which entered with the lowest batting average in the big leagues at .209, is 11-8 following a 1-8 start.
New York dropped back to .500 at 14-14.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks in six innings, his average fastball velocity down about 4 mph from 98 mph in his prior start. He had allowed six hits or fewer in his previous 16 starts.
Cincinnati’s Tanner Roark gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Wheeler walked his first two batters in a 31-pitch second. Jose Iglesias followed with an opposite-field double on an inside-out swing after he fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off three pitches and then watched Wheeler make a pair of pickoff attempts. Two pitches later, Tucker Barnhart lined an RBI single to right.
After Roark struck out, Jose Peraza drove a hanging curveball over third baseman Todd Frazier for a run-scoring double and a 3-0 lead. Eugenio Suarez hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left-center.
New York closed to 4-2 in the bottom half when Wilson Ramos hit an RBI double and scored on Amed Rosario’s single. The Mets tied the score with a two-out rally in the fourth that included four walks and a single by Wheeler in a five-batter span. Roark forced in a run with a four-pitch walk to rookie Pete Alonso, and Wandy Peralta followed with a four-pitch walk to Brandon Nimmo.
Mets reliever Jeurys Familia, who allowed earned runs in five of his previous eight appearances, got into trouble in the eighth when he walked slumping Scott Schebler leading off and hit Iglesias on the left biceps with a pitch. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Peraza grounded the first pitch to Frazier, who made a backhand grab, stepped on third and threw to first for a double play.
While the announced crowd of 20,766 was the smallest this season at Citi Field, actual attendance appeared less than half that.
MIXING IT UP
Cincinnati used its 25th batting order in 28 games for its eight position players.
Reds: LHP Alex Wood is still bothered by his back. Sidelined since spring training, Wood threw a bullpen last week and “didn’t respond well the next day. The days after that he was doing better,” manager David Bell said. Wood was examined again to “make sure he’s going in the right direction,” Bell said.
RHP Luis Castillo (3-1), who starts Tuesday for Cincinnati, is 6-2 with a 1.18 ERA since last September. LHP Jason Vargas (1-1) goes for New York after lowering his ERA from 14.21 to 7.20 in his last two starts by allowing two runs over 8 2/3 innings in a no-decision at St. Louis and a loss to Philadelphia. RHPs Jacob deGrom (2-3) and Noah Syndergaard (1-3) start the remainder of the four-game series for New York. “Probably the most important games are going to be the last two, when we’ve got our two big dogs pitching, trying to continue to right the ship and get us headed in the right direction,” Callaway said.