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Offense still missing, bullpen loses control as Mets drop rubber game to Reds

Max Schrock Reds Mets
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Max Schrock (32) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the New York Mets during the fourth inning at Citi Field.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A few days after the trade deadline hasn’t provided any indication that the Mets have gotten better.

In fact, they were just as bad if not worse than before the July 31 marker came and went.

The Mets were beat down by the Cincinnati Reds 7-1 to drop the rubber game of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field — all while watching the wheels fall off on a dreadful offense and inept bullpen.

Reds first baseman Max Schrock recorded five hits with a couple of RBI to lead the way as the Mets’ offense allowed its team’s doors to be blown off in the late innings, allowing three runs on eight walks in the final four innings.

A maddeningly inconsistent Mets offense could do next to nothing against Reds rookie starter Vladimir Gutiérrez, who spun a gem in his 12th career start. The righty went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out three.

Cincinnati did a bulk of its damage in the sixth inning, in which it posted three runs on starter Marcus Stroman and reliever Miguel Castro. Kyler Farmer’s RBI triple began to extend the Reds’ 1-0 lead before Tyler Stephenson’s sacrifice fly put the visitors up 3-0.

That was all for Stroman, who was credited for all four runs earned on Sunday afternoon in his 5.2 innings of work but it was further worsened by Castro, who walked the bases loaded by issuing a free pass to Aristedes Aquino before throwing four straight balls to the opposing pitcher, Gutiérrez, to dig the Mets into a 4-0 hole. 

Jeff McNeil immediately pulled one back in the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to center field, his sixth home run of the season, but that was all the Mets would get off Gutiérrez, who was making his 12th career start. 

The Reds initially moved ahead in the fourth inning when first baseman Max Schrock — who filled in for Joey Votto after his streak of seven straight games with a home run was snapped on Saturday night — hit a solo round-tripper. 

It was a banner day for the utility infielder, who set a new career-high with those five hits on the afternoon. His last extended the Reds’ lead in the ninth inning to four with an RBI single up the middle past a diving Javier Baez off reliever Geoff Hartlieb, who walked the first two batters to set the table for Schrock.

Cincinnati continued to add on to their advantage after Hartlieb walked a third in the inning after Tyler Naquin doubled in a pair to put the Reds up six, blowing the doors off the Mets.

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