CINCINNATI — On the brink of significant embarrassment, a would-be series loss to perhaps the worst team in the National League, the Mets did Wednesday night what they have done so often this season: Change everything at the last moment.
They rallied to an 8-3 win over the Reds with five runs in the top of the 10th inning off rookie reliever Dauri Moreta, a sequence highlighted by Dominic Smith’s go-ahead RBI double and Brandon Nimmo’s three-run home run. That came after Starling Marte’s tying hit, an RBI double in the top of the ninth — when the Mets were down to their last two outs.
This comeback was less thrilling and more relieving, but it counted just the same.
“Very important win, even though, yeah, it’s against Cincinnati. They made us fight and scratch and claw for everything we got this whole series,” Nimmo said. “It’s a relief for (those who had the big hits), it’s a relief for us. It’s a game won. So everybody feels better about it at the end of the day. It’s a huge relief.”
Smith added: “We’re going to have to have wins like this. It’s just a part of it, part of being a good team. It’s not going to always be pretty, but if we can find ways to win ballgames, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year.”
That boosted the Mets (51-31) to another series victory and kept red-hot Atlanta at 2 1/2 games back in the NL East. Those teams will meet for a three-game set starting Monday.
The late dramatics expunged a pair of mostly futile nights at the plate. The Mets left 10 runners on base in regulation. Before Marte’s double, they had totaled two runs in nearly two full games against the team with the worst ERA in the majors.
But you wouldn’t know that stat based the way they talked about the Reds (28-53).
Righthander Graham Ashcraft, attacking with mid- and high-90s cutters and sinkers, worked around 10 hits but allowed only two runs in six innings. The Mets went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base against him.
His 105th and final pitch was a 98-mph sinker to Nimmo, hit it into the dirt and toward first base for a groundout. Ashcraft marked the moment with a pair of double fist pumps.
“I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but those two starters are really good,” Nimmo said, referring to Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo, who pitched Tuesday.
Manager Buck Showalter said: “We had a lot of hits, a lot of opportunities. It was just frustrating not being able to break through. I’m sure that felt good to the players. I know it felt good to us as a team. But we need them all. That’s a good win.”
In his first start back from a four-day paternity leave, David Peterson labored through 3 2/3 innings. He limited the damage to three runs and four hits, but he issued a career-high five walks — matching his total from the previous month (25 innings).
Showalter said Peterson had trouble gripping the ball in the miserably muggy conditions. It also surely didn’t help that Peterson did not have a normal between-starts routine. He faced the Rangers on Friday, flew to Denver on Saturday, was present for the birth of his son, and flew to Cincinnati on Tuesday.
Getting the assist in the Mets’ comeback were rookie righthander relievers Adonis Medina (three scoreless innings) and Colin Holderman (1 1/3 scoreless innings). Medina worked out of Peterson’s two-on, two-out jam in the fourth.
“Obviously, I come out of the game not very happy with my performance and the shortness of it,” Peterson said. “Coming out of the game, having all the confidence in the world in your teammates out of the bullpen and the offense coming through — I wasn’t worried at all. I figured we would make a run at some point, and we did it in time.”