Mets bats go cold after Niese pays for mistake

Jonathon Niese stands on the mound after surrendering

Jonathon Niese stands on the mound after surrendering a first inning three-run home run to Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds. (June 16, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The Reds used a pitcher named Homer and a three-run homer to beat the Mets Saturday night, 4-1, at Citi Field.

Homer Bailey limited the Mets to one run in eight innings as Cincinnati won here for the second straight night. The Mets had won three in a row after losing six of seven.

Jay Bruce's three-run home run off Jon Niese in the first inning put the Mets in an early hole. Especially galling for the Mets was that the massive blast far up the second deck in right came on a fat 0-and-2 curveball.

"I don't regret throwing the pitch," said Niese (4-3), who gave up four runs in seven innings. "I regret hanging it on the inside part of the plate. That's baseball. One pitch. One mistake and it costs you the game."

The Mets also regretted an uncharacteristically bad evening with runners in scoring position.

They had a few chances against Bailey (5-4) but cashed in only one. Daniel Murphy and David Wright hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the first to make the score 3-1.

But from that point, the Mets went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, with the one being a non-run-producing single by Josh Thole in the second. To wit:

In the first, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis left Wright at second;

In the second, with runners at first and third, Omar Quintanilla popped out to second, Niese bunted into a forceout and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a fly ball to left;

In the third, with runners at first and second and one out, Davis flied out to left and Scott Hairston struck out.

In the sixth, with runners on first and second, Hairston flied out to right and Thole banged into a 6-4 forceout. The Mets got a gift when the relay throw from Brandon Phillips was high, allowing Thole to reach base. But Quintanilla hit a bloop to short leftfield that shortstop Zack Cozart ran down without too much fuss.

"I've got to get it going personally," said Thole, who is in a 7-for-37 (.189) funk after going 1-for-3. "First and second, one out, I've got to get a hit there. First at-bat, Scotty on base, get a base hit, but it's just a single. I've got to start driving the ball."

Bailey allowed six hits, walked one and struck out three. Aroldis Chapman struck out one in the ninth and picked up his eighth save. The Mets didn't have a hit after Davis' one-out single in the seventh.

"We're sitting in our position today because we hit with two outs," manager Terry Collins said. "And today we didn't. We had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game . . . In a close game, they're going to come back to haunt you."

The NL Central-leading Reds made it 4-1 in the fourth when Ryan Ludwick singled to drive in Bruce, who had been hit by a pitch to open the inning.

Bailey hit Duda in the back with a 2-and-1 pitch leading off the sixth. It was the second straight night the teams exchanged plunkings; on Friday, Joey Votto was hit by Dillon Gee and David Wright was hit by Sean Marshall in what Wright thought was a retaliatory strike. But no one seemed too ruffled about the whole thing last night.

"If they're hitting our guys on purpose, that's something we deal with," Thole said. "To think that we're hitting them on purpose I don't think is the right thought process."

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