CINCINNATI -- In their current walk-and-chew-gum challenge, the Mets and their future former teammate made a nice trade here Monday night, a 4-2 victory over the Reds in exchange for another day of where-will-Carlos-Beltran-go speculation.
Beltran -- still here for now -- provided the sacrifice fly that drove in the first of four runs in a seventh-inning outburst that provided just enough cushion to get the Mets back to the .500 mark at 51-51.
The Mets soldiered on behind starter R.A. Dickey's 62/3 innings of solid work, that single inning of timely hitting and manager Terry Collins' willingness to send closer Bobby Parnell back into the fray a day after surrendering a game to Florida.
Clinging to the 4-2 lead, Parnell got through the eighth, allowing only a walk and retiring pinch hitter Joey Votto and his .315 average on a fly ball to left. Collins then called on veteran Jason Isringhausen.
There was a fish-out-of-water play by first baseman Daniel Murphy -- he knocked down Paul Janish's hard grounder, fell on his back, then crawled to the bag in a near-collision with both Isringhausen and Janish for the first out.
"It was a free-for-all over there,'' Murphy said. "Mark the ball, bring out the chains. I don't know how it happened, but we got the out.''
"I believe in the old man,'' Dickey said of the 39-year-old Isringhausen. "He's got a lot of tricks up his sleeve.''
With the Mets down 1-0 going to the seventh, Jose Reyes triggered the winning rally with a one-out single to left. Justin Turner dumped a single over second baseman Phillips' head, Beltran got Reyes home with a sacrifice fly to center, Wright singled, Murphy doubled home two runs and Jason Bay doubled to drive in Murphy.
Then came the shaky part. Janish doubled and scored on Stubbs' two-out single to chase Dickey. Reliever Pedro Beato's four-pitch walk to Cairo immediately brought Tim Byrdak into the game, whereupon Byrdak got the Mets out of that ticklish situation by striking out Bruce on three pitches.
Through 5 innings, most of the action was contained in the 60-foot, 6-inch corridor between the pitcher's mound and home plate. Dickey, who finished with seven strikeouts and only one walk, had Cincinnati's hitters thrashing in search of his wobbling knuckleball and the Mets weren't exactly hammering starter Mike Leake.
Collins had praise for Parnell's bounce-back outing ("He pitched a big inning''), for Isringhausen ("He's an old pro, no doubt about it'') and appreciation for Murphy ("He's'' -- a pause -- "exciting'').
Away from Citi Field, that dead-ball area, the Mets totaled 11 hits and won for the 29th time on the road (against 25 losses). All of last season, they won 32 road games.