Mets pen nearly survives Reds

CINCINNATI -- After carefully negotiating a dangerous Cincinnati Reds lineup for seven innings with six pitchers, the Mets couldn’t quite make it through the final frame with their last two, leading to a 3-2 loss.

“You saw how we did it,” manager Terry Collins said. “It was pretty obvious. You’ve got to be careful with [Joey] Votto. You’ve got to be careful with [Jay] Bruce. Brandon Phillips has 100 RBIs in the 2-hole. We played them tough. We just couldn’t muster enough runs.”

Starting pitcher Aaron Harang gave up two runs in the second inning before he and five relief pitchers -- in order of appearance, Gonzalez Germen, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Tim Byrdak and David Aardsma -- avoided further damage in innings three through nine, even though the Reds had at least one runner on base in each inning except one.

No situation was dicier than the ninth, when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double against the left-handed Byrdak, and then stole third as the right-handed Aardsma pitched to Phillips.

No matter. Aardsma coaxed Phillips into a harmless groundout against the drawn-in Mets infield. Collins ordered a walk to Joey Votto, and after Aardsma got Ryan Ludwick to pop up, team home run leader Jay Bruce also was intentionally walked. Aardsma made the strategy pay off by getting Todd Frazier to fly out to center field.

“He threw strikes and didn’t fall behind,” Collins said about Aardsma.

The bullpen couldn’t overcome a couple of bad breaks in the 10th to make the staff’s effort stand up. Greg Burke (0-3) gave up a one-out single to Devin Mesoraco as third baseman David Wright couldn’t make a diving stop. Derrick Robinson followed with a chopper over Lucas Duda's head at first base, setting up Choo’s game-winning RBI single off left-hander Sean Henn.