Reds' starting pitcher Johnny Cueto against the Mets. (June 17,...

Reds' starting pitcher Johnny Cueto against the Mets. (June 17, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

It's almost as if the Mets' three-game sweep of the Rays was a mirage. After pounding out nearly 10 runs per game last week at Tampa Bay, the Mets' bats went cold this weekend in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Reds.

The latest lumber slumber came in Sunday's 3-1 loss at Citi Field. Tough righty Johnny Cueto held the Mets to one run in seven innings as NL Central-leading Cincinnati won its sixth straight.

The Mets have lost three in a row after winning three straight against the Rays. They scored 29 runs and picked up 40 hits at Tampa Bay. In this weekend's series, the Mets totaled five runs and 17 hits.

Chris Young was the victim of limited support on Sunday. In his third start since returning from shoulder surgery, Young (1-1) allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings. He gave up nine hits, walked two and struck out two.

But Cueto (8-3) was better, even though it appeared early as if he might not make it out of the third inning -- but not because of anything the Mets had done.

The Mets were leading 1-0 on Cueto's bases-loaded walk of the .000-batting Young in the second inning.

After throwing the first pitch of the third inning to Omar Quintanilla, Cueto was visited on the mound by manager Dusty Baker and the Reds' trainer. After a relatively lengthy delay and a few warmup tosses, Cueto was given a cup of water from the dugout. He continued to finish the inning and four more without allowing another run.

The Reds scored three two-out runs against Young in the fifth. Zack Cozart doubled and scored the tying run on a single to center by ex-Met Wilson Valdez.

Valdez took second on the throw home, so the Mets intentionally walked reigning NL MVP Joey Votto. Brandon Phillips followed with a single to right. Valdez scored on the hit and Votto trotted home when Lucas Duda's throw to third flew past David Wright and into the Reds' dugout for an error.

The Mets, who went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in Saturday's 4-1 defeat, had fewer opportunities on Sunday. They were 1-for-5 with a single and Young's run-scoring walk.

The Mets had loaded the bases in the second on three consecutive one-out singles. Andres Torres hit a fly ball to short center for the second out before Young walked on a 3-and-1 pitch. Cueto recovered to strike out Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

After falling behind 3-1, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth thanks to a single by Nieuwenhuis and an error by third baseman Miguel Cairo. But Cueto got Wright to bounce into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Cueto allowed six hits. He walked one and struck out eight.

The Mets had the makings of a two-out rally in the eighth against Jose Arrendondo when Wright singled and Duda walked. Baker called on lefthander Sean Marshall against Ike Davis and Terry Collins countered with Scott Hairston, who was hitting .342 with seven home runs against lefties and has a pair of pinch hit home runs this season.

Baker won the chess match, however, as Hairston grounded a breaking ball to third for a rally-quashing forceout.

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