By Hal McCoy
The best news for the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night came before the first pitch. . .scheduled pitcher Max Scherzer was not going to pitch.
Neck spasms forced the man the New York Mets are paying $43.3 million this year to miss his turn.
And the Reds celebrated by abusing Scherzer’s stand-in, David Peterson, for four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. And they continued their assault against relief pitcher Stephen Nogosek for three more in 1 2/3 innings for a 7-1 lead.
Then they hung on under a home run barrage by the Mets the rest of the way to squeeze out a 7-6 victory in Great American Ball Park.
Reds starter Luke Weaver struggled to hold off the Mets, who have lost 10 of their last 13 games.
He gave up a pair of home runs to number nine hitter and 21-year-old catcher Francisco Alvarez. That was it through six innings, a 7-2 Reds lead.
The Mets scored two in sthe seventh when Pete Alonso hit his league-leading 12th home run and when Weaver walked Brett Barty his night was done. Barty scored when Mark Canha hit into a no-out bases-loaded double play and it was 7-4.
The Mets crept ever-so-closer with two runs in the eighth. Derek Law hit Brandon Nimmo with a pitch and Francisco Lindor dropped one into the upper deck, the Mets fourth homer and they were within 7-6.
And when they put two men on base with two outs, manager David Bell went to closer Alexis Diaz. He walked Daniel Vogelsbach to fill the bases, then snuffed the rally by striking out pinch-hitter Luis Guillorme on a pitch that kicked up a dust storm at home plate.
Diaz saved his team an embarrassing defeat with a one-two-three ninth. He struck out Alvarez, he of the two home runs, struck out Nimmo on called strike three on a full count and ended it on a weak ground ball by Lindor. It was Diaz’s seventh save in seven opportunities.
The Reds constructed their 7-1 lead with a run in the first, two in the second, one in the fourth and three in the fifth. . .then shut it down as the Mets came barging back.
Jonathan India led the Reds’ first with a double and scored on Tyler Stepheson’s two-out single, ending the Reds’ streak of 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
Kevin Newman opened the second sitxh a walk and took third on TJ Friedl’s single. Friedl stole second. India scored on Nick India’s ground ball and Friedl scored on Nick Senzel’s single.
The Reds added a run in the fourth on Luke Maile’s double and India’s double and it was 4-1 after New York’s Alvarez homered in the top of the third.
The three runs that turned out to be the runs the Reds needed came in the fifth. Wil Myers and Kevin Newman both reached on infield hits. New York manager Buck Showalter was ejected when he vehemently argued that Myers interfered with shortstop Lindor’s chance to make a play on Newman’s grounder.
As soon as Showalter hit the tunnel headed for the clubhouse, TJ Friedl tripled to right for two runs and then scored on India’s sacrifice fly. It was 7-1 and time to hold on tight.
The Mets had only seven hits, four of them home runs. The Reds put together 10 early hits, two each of Senzel and Friedl. Friedl drove in two and scored two.
If he doesn’t come down with neck spasms, Justin Verlander, the Mets $30 million (this year) pitcher will face Hunter Greene in the second game of the three-game series Wednesday night.