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Mets hold off late rally by Reds

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The Cincinnati Reds had the tying run at second in the ninth, but Jose Valverde struck out Jay Bruce to end the game and secure the Mets 4-3 victory on Friday at Citi Field.

The score could have read Lucas Duda 4, Bruce 3, as the two lefties drove all seven runs in another rain soaked game for Cincinnati. Mike Leake (0-1) was victimized twice by Duda in his 6.2 innings. He did strike out three and allowed just five hits. Jenrry Mejia (1-0) baffled Reds hitters as he allowed one run and struck out eight in six innings. Mejia was his biggest enemy as five walks put his pitch count at 101 after six.

Brandon Phillips solved Mejia right away in the first inning, but Eric Young Jr. took a home run away from the second baseman with a leaping catch at the left field wall. Mejia sandwiched that play with strikeouts of Roger Bernadina and Joey Votto. Leake faced a load of trouble in his first inning as he walked the bases loaded, but got Juan Lagares to fly out and end the threat.

The Reds (1-3) got a runner into scoring position in the second, but Ramon Santiago struck out looking to strand Todd Frazier at second. That was not the case in the third inning as Bruce capitalized on a two out walk to Votto and was able to get Cincinnati on the board with an RBI single.

That lead held until the fourth inning when Curtis Granderson doubled and then Duda launched a home run over the right field wall. The Reds tried to counter with runners at the corners in the sixth, but Leake struck out swinging to keep a 2-1 game. That proved costly as Leake would give up another two run homer to Duda to give the Mets (1-3) a 4-1 advantage.

John Lannan came on in relief of Mejia in the seventh, but did not last the whole inning as he was chased by Bruce who sent Lannan's offering into the bullpen in right field to cut the lead to 4-3. Mets manager Terry Collins opted for a double switch that brought in Kyle Farnsworth for Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker for Lannan.

This proved to be a significant move as Recker, now catching for d'Arnaud, delivered a perfect throw in the eighth inning to catch a stealing Billy Hamilton. In his brief career Hamilton is 13-of-15 in stolen base attempts, but has been thrown out both times by a Mets catcher (Juan Centeno being the other Mets catcher to do so).

Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover pitched 1.1 innings of combined shutout relief to give the Reds a chance going into the ninth. Jose Valverde came on in the ninth to try and shut the door for the Mets, but entered the game with 38 career blown saves. Valverde just inherited the closer's role after Bobby Parnell was injured on Opening Day.

With that shaky history in mind, many Mets fans were on the edge of their seats when Valverde walked Bernadina and then Phillips singled to put the tying run at second base. Votto flew out to left and then Bruce took a big swing and missed to earn Valverde his first save in the National League since Sept. 27, 2009 (with Houston), also against the Reds.

The win also secured that Mets would not start 0-4 for the first time since 2005. With their victory and the Angels 11-1 drubbing of the Astros ensured that all 30 MLB teams have at least one win so far this season.

Cincinnati will try to avoid it's own three game losing skid when Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29 ERA) takes the mound against Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in a Saturday matinee that is set to begin at 1:10 p.m.

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