Reds clinch winning month with rout of Mets
CINCINNATI -- Finishing a month above .500 might not seem like a big deal to some teams.
For the Cincinnati Reds, it’s a small step in what they hope is the right direction.
Scooter Gennett smacked a two-run home run and drove in three runs against New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, Joey Votto added a solo shot and the Reds captured the rubber match of their three-game series against the New York Mets with a 7-2 win Thursday.
The Reds went 4-5 on their nine-game homestand, but they finished August with a 15-14 record, their first winning month since going 13-11 in July 2016. The Reds had lost 14 straight against the Mets dating back to September 2014 going into the series.
“We get their best guy in game three of the series,” manager Bryan Price. “What was under the radar is, if we lose that, we finish the month under .500. If we win, we’re 15-14. That may seem like a small thing to most people, but it means a lot to us.”
Rookie catcher Stuart Turner added an eighth-inning two-run shot and rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson (3-4) shook off getting plunked by a line drive in the third to last a season-high six innings.
“It’s definitely sore, and it will be a little tight (on Friday), but I didn’t want to come out of that game,” Stephenson said. “It was a little bit of a wakeup call.”
Stephenson, who has won his last three starts, allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
DeGrom (14-8) slipped to 2-5 in seven starts since he strung together eight consecutive wins. He allowed six hits and four runs -- three earned -- with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings.
“They’re a team that doesn’t strike out a lot,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “They put the ball in play. I know he’d like to have the at-bat against Gennett back again. He wasn’t his sharpest. You’re not going to be great every time out. We didn’t give him too much wriggle room either.”
Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to seven games (11-for-25) with his second double to lead off a game in fewer than 24 hours. This one was a ground-rule shot that bounced off the warning track and grazed the top of the wall on its way into a service tunnel next to the home team’s bullpen in left-center field. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera, who has seven RBIs in his last seven games.
The Reds, who were shut out for the fifth time on Wednesday night after piling up 14 runs on Tuesday, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second. Eugenio Suarez led off with a single and Gennett followed his 23rd homer of the season, a long belt into the deep right-center field seats.
The homer was redemption for Gennett, who struck out with the bases loaded and two outs to finish Wednesday’s 2-0 loss.
The Mets tied it at 2 in the third when Reyes scored from third on Brandon Nimmo’s line drive single that glanced off the lower body of Stephenson. Stephenson threw a couple of test pitches and stayed in the game.
“Robert was really good,” Price said. “He took that line drive off his hip, but at no point in time did that become a concern. That can be a fallback for some guys coming out of the game. I‘m not suggesting any of our guys would do that. He handled himself really well. He built some street rep with the guys.”
Hamilton manufactured a go-ahead run in the third. He led off with a single to center, stole his 55th base and, with one out, sped into third on Joey Votto’s grounder to Cabrera at shortstop. Cabrera’s throw to third glanced off Hamilton’s body and rolled far enough away for him to score.
Gennett followed Jose Peraza’s leadoff single with a two-out, RBI double off the base of the right field wall in the fifth.
“I was flying open,” deGrom said. “A couple of pitches to Scooter -- he got me.”
Votto added his 34th homer in the seventh inning and then gave a high five, a bat and a jersey to 6-year-old Walter Herbert, who was sitting in the first row behind the plate. Herbert was a Make-A-Wish visitor to the field and the Reds honorary captain on Sunday.
Votto declined after the game to comment on his relationship with Herbert.
NOTES: The Reds placed C Tucker Barnhart on the three-day paternity list and recalled C Chad Wallach from Triple-A Louisville, Wallach’s second baby-related promotion in less than a week. He was promoted from the Bats last Friday when C Stuart Turner went on paternity leave. ... Mets RF Travis Taijeron logged his first career hit with a double into the left-field corner with one out in the fourth inning. ... RHP Jacob deGrom’s strikeout of pinch hitter Zack Cozart in the sixth inning was his single-season high 206th of the season.