NEW YORK (AP) — Todd Frazier had a big audience — and a big night in front of it.
The former Rutgers player homered twice in front of about three dozen friends and family members, Brandon Phillips hit a tying single off Jon Rauch in the eighth inning and the Cincinnati Reds beat the New York Mets 6-3 on Wednesday night.
“I gave him the lineup card,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You always want to do well in front of your parents, his fiancee, and the homies, and everybody. I try to play guys, you know, in front of their home people because they tend to play better and concentrate better.”
Frazier had another reason.
“It’s New York. It’s the best city in the world,” he said. “Yeah, it’s totally different with the family there and it’s New York City, so it’s just a great atmosphere always. It’s just a good place to play.”
Pinch-hitter Jay Bruce drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly one out after the Reds put together three straight hits off Rauch (3-2), ending with Phillips’ single. Rauch retired Chris Heisey on a popup before left-hander Tim Byrdak came on to face the lefty-hitting Bruce. After that, D.J. Carrasco entered and gave up Frazier’s second homer on his first pitch.
Carrasco was designated for assignment after the game.
The night before, Carrasco hit Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun with a pitch, prompting manager Terry Collins to take David Wright out of a game in which the Mets trailed 8-0, to avoid retaliation. Wright and his manager had an animated discussion in the dugout about it, but said everything was fine on Wednesday.
Jose Arredondo (3-1) pitched a perfect inning of relief for the Reds. Sean Marshall gave up a hit in the ninth but finished for his seventh save.
“We’re in New York and Yogi Berra said if you ain’t got a bullpen, you ain’t got nothing,” Baker said. “Yogi was right, big time. You’ve got to have a bullpen.”
Mike Leake struck out a season-high five in six innings for the Reds.
Leake singled with two outs in the third and motored home on Zack Cozart’s double into the left-field corner. He just beat the relay throw from Wright, the third baseman, sliding in ahead of Mike Nickeas’ tag. His momentum caused him to pop to his feet, and then he stumbled and plopped gently face down on the Mets logo behind the plate, where he remained for a beat before he stood up, smiling.
“Yeah, I just kind of lost my balance a little bit and fell sideways instead of going forward,” Leake said. “We’ll see if it makes ‘Not So Top 10′ or something.”
Leake remained winless in seven starts, but looked much better than last time out, when he only lasted three innings.
“I was kind of a hole in the rotation, but it was a matter of time where I was going to come around,” Leake said. “I just need to string a few together. I’m not going to put the pressure on myself to do it, but I’m just going to go out there with the same attitude that I had tonight.”
Ike Davis snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a go-ahead double in the sixth inning, but the Mets’ bullpen coughed up the lead for the ninth time in 20 chances this year, sending New York to its third loss in four games and giving starter Johan Santana his fifth no-decision in eight starts.
Frazier hit a solo homer off Santana in the top of the seventh after the Mets took a 3-1 lead. Bobby Parnell came on with two outs to strike out Cozart with a runner on second. Parnell, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in more than eight innings, didn’t come back out for the eighth.
Leake looked shaky early, but held the Mets to a run through six innings until first baseman Joey Votto’s error opened the door.
After Lucas Duda’s leadoff single, Votto fielded Daniel Murphy’s grounder and attempted to start a double play with an underhand fling in the general direction of second base while falling down. The ball went way into left field, and runners were safe on the corners. Davis then hit the first pitch from his former Arizona State teammate down the line for an RBI double.
Nickeas laid down a successful squeeze bunt and Murphy sprinted home for a 3-1 lead. Frazier cut into that with his first homer, then gave the Reds a cushion with his second. After striking out his first two times up, it was a relief to have the pressure off.
“A lot of friends and family, you know, they’ve been following ever since I was playing when I was 12 in that Little League World Series, so it doesn’t bother me as much,” Frazier said. “It’s actually fun, you know. Striking out those first two at-bats didn’t really help, but this game’s about adjustments and that’s what you got to do from pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat. It was a special time tonight for sure.”
NOTES: Leake had two hits, giving him 31 over the last three seasons. Only Yovani Gallardo, with 32, has more among pitchers, according to STATS, LLC. … The Reds visited Citi Field for a two-game series, before remaining in New York for the weekend to play the Yankees. They’re the first team to play both New York teams in the same trip since interleague play began. Other teams have previously doubled up on the White Sox and Cubs, Angels and Dodgers, and Athletics and Giants. … Wednesday was the 52nd birthday of Cincinnati bullpen coach Porky Lopez.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)