NEW YORK (AP) The New York Mets let Daniel Murphy go in free agency this offseason after his power surge last fall propelled them to the World Series.
Turns out, the guy they got to replace Murphy at second base can homer in bunches, too.
Neil Walker hit his ninth home run to tie for the major league lead, Matt Harvey won his second straight start and the New York Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 to stretch their winning streak to six.
Walker’s third-inning homer off Jon Moscot (0-2) extended the Mets’ lead to 3-1 and tied the team record for home runs in April. Walker has three homers in his past five games and six in his past nine.
”Sometimes you go through stretches where you’re seeing the ball well,” Walker said. ”In this case I’m seeing the ball well and I’m barreling balls up but they’re not singles. They’re turning into balls in the seats, so it’s obviously been a good April so far.”
Harvey (2-3) won his second consecutive start after losing his first three. He overcame a first-inning home run by Zack Cozart and gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. Mixing a changeup with a fastball that reached 97 mph, Harvey struck out a season-high seven and walked one.
”That’s a good step forward,” Harvey said. ”I think the work that we’ve been putting in is coming around and step-by-step, game-by-game, it’s coming along.”
The Mets are hoping this start can help Harvey return to his usual dominance.
”I think this is the best he’s thrown all year,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”We all expect great things out of these young guys because they’re so good and so talented, but we’ve got to have a little patience also.”
Addison Reed pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. Coming off a weekend sweep at Atlanta, New York has won nine of 10 to close within 1 1/2 games of NL East-leading Washington.
Moscot (0-2) gave up three runs – one earned – four hits and four walks in five innings. Cincinnati has lost four straight and 12 of its last 16.
After the homer by Cozart, who raised his average to .397 with a 2-for-4 performance, Ivan DeJesus Jr. singled off Harvey’s butt and onto the outfield grass. Harvey then stuck out Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Devin Mesoraco to escape further damage.
”We go into the game, even if you say he’s struggling, we know it’s going to be tough to put up runs,” Cozart said. ”It was a little bit of a boost at the beginning, but we couldn’t hold on.”
On a night when the Reds made three errors and the Mets two, New York went ahead in the first with two unearned runs.
Lucas Duda drove in Alejandro De Aza on a deep fly that bounced off left fielder Scott Schebler’s glove for a two-base error, and Walker singled in Duda.
Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out in the third before Harvey struck out Suarez, and Walker dove to his right behind second to snare Mesoraco’s liner.
Suarez’s run-scoring single in the fifth pulled the Reds to 3-2, but Michael Conforto greeted Drew Hayes with a two-run double in the sixth.
THOR THE TEACHER
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who was crowned Miss Universe in December, threw out the first pitch. Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard helped Wurtzbach prepare for the moment, showing her proper grip and pitching form as well as playing some catch. Wearing a Mets jersey with `Miss Universe’ and the number 15 on the back, she threw from the rubber and two-hopped the pitch to catcher Kevin Plawecki.
Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips missed his second straight game due to shin inflammation, caused by fouling consecutive pitches off his left foot and shin on Monday. He was also hit on the left ring finger by a pitch during the same at-bat. Manager Bryan Price said after the game that Phillips is expected to play on Friday.
Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, whose three-run homer propelled the Mets to a comeback win Tuesday, was out of the starting lineup for the fifth straight game with a bruised right thigh. Manager Terry Collins expects Cespedes to start Friday. … OF Curtis Granderson, who had played every inning this season, didn’t start but pinch hit in the eighth.
Reds: RHP Dan Straily (0-0, 3.50 ERA),making his third start after beginning the season as a long reliever, is to take on LHP Francisco Liriano (1-1, 4.64 ERA) in a series opener Friday at Pittsburgh.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (2-1, 5.40 ERA) is slated to start Friday’s series opener against San Francisco and RHP Jake Peavy (1-1, 6.86 ERA). After lasting only 1 2/3 innings in his season debut, Matz has pitched into the seventh in consecutive outings and is seeking his third straight victory.