It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Eventually, 24-year-old Mets ace Matt Harvey was going to run into a hard-hitting team, the sort that can tune out the hype and zero in to exploit even the smallest of mistakes.
That's exactly what happened Wednesday at Citi Field as Harvey allowed a career-high nine hits in the Reds' 7-4 victory. Harvey lasted 6 1/3 innings, giving up a season-high four runs and striking out six and walking three. A two-run rally in the seventh prevented his first loss of the season. Instead, it was his fifth no-decision in his last six starts.
"Obviously, it wasn't a good start," Harvey said. "I had to battle through a lot of things. I was trying to throw as many strikes as I could. Guys were making good plays behind me. But for me it was not a good start."
Against the Reds, Harvey found it wasn't going to be easy to dig out after falling behind in the count. The biggest example of that came in the third inning when, after giving up a one-out double to Zack Cozart, Harvey threw three straight balls to Joey Votto. His fourth pitch was a belt-high fastball that Votto pounded to left for his seventh home run.
"I was trying to throw fastball away," Harvey said. "I don't like walking people, so in that count I want to throw a strike. I just missed over the plate a bit. He's a good hitter. He's going to put a good swing on it."
Said Votto: "I can see why there's all the hype. He's a good pitcher. He has a good fastball, and typically you don't see a lot of 90-mile-per-hour sliders. He has a pretty good changeup and good control. He seems to compete well. I think he has good stuff and has a chance to be a good pitcher."
Votto wasn't the only Red to get a big hit against Harvey. Cozart, who entered the game batting .206, had a career-high four hits off Harvey, including two doubles. Brandon Phillips, who was responsible for the weird ninth-inning double past Ike Davis that drove in the go-ahead run, had an RBI single that chased Harvey from the game in the seventh.
"It was the first time we faced that Harvey guy, and he looked good," Phillips said. "We just hit his mistakes. He was throwing me sliders away a lot today. That was their plan. I adjusted to it later on."
Harvey entered with a 5-0 record and a 1.55 ERA, which rose to 1.93, still fifth-best in the league. His wins, however, were all against clubs whose batting average is in the bottom half of the league. The Reds were not the same kind of easy out.
"They did their job,'' Harvey said. "Today, I did not do mine."