Mets handle Johnny Cueto, Reds to move above .500

CINCINNATI -- Every time the Reds threw one away, someone else would make them pay.

Jason Pridie put New York ahead with a two-run double, and the Mets took advantage of one of Cincinnati's worst defensive performances of the season, beating the Reds 8-6 on Tuesday.

The Mets scored six unearned runs off Johnny Cueto (6-4) with the help of three errors, matching the Reds' high for a game. Each misplay led to a pair of runs and helped the Mets beat the Reds' toughest starter.

"That's huge," Pridie said. "When you're allowed extra outs in any game, more than 27, that's a key. You see what happened. We were facing one of the elite pitchers. To do what we did -- that's what this team's been doing all year."

Jonathon Niese (10-8) went five innings for the win, which moved the Mets back above .500 at 52-51.

The Reds traded left fielder Jonny Gomes to Washington for two minor leaguers shortly before the start of the game, then had trouble getting going. Manager Dusty Baker thinks there might have been a connection.

"Probably so," Baker said. "He was a big part of our family and a popular guy on the team. You can't always control the timing on something like that."

The Reds have one of the NL's best defenses, but repeatedly kicked the ball around in an all-around ragged showing. Cincinnati fell three games under .500, matching its season low.

David Wright continued his hitting surge since returning from a stress fracture in his lower back. The cleanup hitter had two more hits and drove in a run, improving to 10 for 24 with seven RBIs in his five games back.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran spent another day waiting to see if the Mets will trade him. He had an RBI single, walked, reached on an error and scored three times.

Niese gave up five runs in five innings, including Joey Votto's two-run homer that put the Reds ahead 5-4. Tim Byrdak fanned Jay Bruce to end it, getting his first save since 2007 with Detroit.

The Mets traded closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee after the All-Star game. A mix-and-match bullpen has been doing the job lately.

"I'm telling you, I just shake my head every night," manager Terry Collins said. "These guys never cease to amaze me. They pull together."

Gomes was supposed to start in left field -- he's 3-for-7 career with a homer off Niese -- but was scratched when the trade was completed shortly before the start. The Reds gave away Gomes bobbleheads three days earlier.

For the first three innings, the Reds beat themselves up. In one moment that summed it up, Bruce hit a foul ball that bounced up and smacked him on the left side of the helmet.

A rested MVP provided their only shining moment.

Votto got a day out of the lineup in the series opener because he looked sluggish. His two-run homer -- his first since the All-Star break -- put the Reds up 5-4 in the fifth.

Niese, who became New York's first 10-game winner, inexplicably lost his control in the fifth, making it his final inning.

"I felt good early," Niese said. "In the fifth inning, I just lost command. All my pitches were up. When your offense gives you a lead like that, you don't want to give it up. Unfortunately it was one of those days, one of those innings."

The Mets got it right back.

Third baseman Miguel Cairo's fielding error -- Cincinnati's third overall -- helped the Mets put two runners aboard in the sixth. Pridie's two-run double ended Cueto's performance. Forced to throw 110 pitches because of the inning-extending errors, Cueto had his streak of 11 straight quality starts snapped.

Cueto's ERA actually improved from 1.98 to 1.88 because all the runs were all unearned.

Game notes
Beltran said before the game that he has mixed feelings about the possibility of being traded to a contending team. "If you look at it that way, yeah, it's exciting," he said. "At the same time, it's a little sad. I've been here seven years, and I've made a lot of friends. It's hard to let go of seven years just like that." ... OF Angel Pagan had a pinch-hit single in the seventh. ... The Reds got minor league LH Chris Manno and OF Bill Rhinehart for Gomes. ... The Reds called up 1B/LF Yonder Alonso to take Gomes' place. He had a pinch-hit double in the sixth.