Mets involved in playoff race

CINCINNATI -- The three-game series that started Monday against a Cincinnati team still chasing a playoff berth is the closest the Mets will come to a pennant race the rest of the season, and Terry Collins is curious to see how his team responds.

The Reds went into Monday's game tied with Pittsburgh for second place in the Central Division, two games behind St. Louis. Cincinnati and the Pirates also shared a five-game lead over Washington in the wild-card race with six games to play.

"It should be fun," Collins said before Monday's game. "[The Reds] certainly have something to get after. It will be an education for our young players. It will be fun to watch. We'll see how we react. The pressure's on them. We'll see how our guys measure up."

One player not getting immediate exposure to the playoff atmosphere was shortstop Wilfredo Tovar, even though he was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base in his major league debut on Sunday. Collins wanted to avoid matching Tovar up against talented Reds starter Johnny Cueto, a 19-game winner in 2012 who was making his second start after spending more than two months on the disabled list.