By HAL McCOY
Joe Garagiola’s book, ‘Baseball is a Funny Game,’ was a text full of humorous stories surrounding his playing and broadcasting career. And it was hilarious.
But baseball is a funny game in another contest, too.
Isn’t it funny that the Cincinnati Reds can sweep three games from the contending Milwaukee Brewers, including complete domination in the last two?
Then they go to New York to face the Mets, a team with a worse record than the Reds, and they lose in Citi Field for the seventh straight time.
And it was easy: New York 7, Cincinnati 2.
Rookie Tyler Mahle, so effective in his first two major league starts, wobbled a bit in his third start, surviving only four innings Thursday night.
He was given a 2-0 lead in the first two innings against veteran Matt Harvey, fresh off the disable list, but a run in the second and two in the fourth did him in.
For his four innings, Mahle gave up three runs, six hits and struggled with command and control with four walks.
After the two-run lead after two innings, the Reds had only two hits the rest of the way.
Harvey came off the DL five days ago to pitch for the first time since June 14 and gave up seven runs in two innings.
But on this night he went five innings and gave up two runs and five hits. After Harvey left, the Reds had only one baserunner the rest of the way, single by Zack Cozart leading off the eighth, but he was erased when Joey Votto hit into a double play.
The Reds scored in the first when Phillip Ervin led the game with a walk. He was playing center field in place of Billy Hamilton, placed on the disabled list with a broken thumb he sustained trying to bunt Wednesday.
Ervin took third on a hit-and-run 0-and-2 single by Joey Votto and scored on Adam Duvall’s sacrifice fly.
The Reds made it 2-0 in the second on Scott Schebler’s lead off double and Ervin’s two-out double.
And that was it — the offense was closed for business the rest of the night.
The Mets scored a run in the second on Brandon Nimmo’s double and Dominic Smith’s single.
Smith walked and took third on Kevin Plawecki’s double to open the fourth. Mahle retired the next two, both on strikeouts, but Jose Reyes singled for two runs and a 3-2 lead.
Tim Adleman replaced Mahle in the fifth and the first two Mets, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares homered to start the inning, the 28th and 29th home runs given up by Adleman this year.
From there, manager Bryan Price used rookie to finish the game, a tryout look.
Alejandro Chacin pitched the sixth and gave up a one-out single to Asdrubel Cabrera and a home run by Brandon Nimmo, his second homer of the night to go with a double.
That made it 7-2 and Jackson Stephens, a rotation candidate for next year, pitched the last two innings and gave up no runs, no hits, walked one and struck out two.
The Reds were outhit 11-6 and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.