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Walker's 8th Mets HR the difference vs. Reds

April 25, 2016

NEW YORK -- Neil Walker's historic power binge continued on Monday with a go-ahead, two-run homer at Citi Field, giving the Mets a 5-3 win over the Reds.In addition to establishing a personal record for any month in Walker's eight-year career, the second baseman's eighth homer landed mere minutes after

NEW YORK -- Neil Walker's historic power binge continued on Monday with a go-ahead, two-run homer at Citi Field, giving the Mets a 5-3 win over the Reds.
In addition to establishing a personal record for any month in Walker's eight-year career, the second baseman's eighth homer landed mere minutes after the Mets coughed up a two-run lead. Starter Noah Syndergaard navigated around enough trouble to record two outs in the seventh but departed after two hits and an error brought the Reds within a run of the lead. Entering at that point, reliever Antonio Bastardo threw six consecutive balls, eventually serving up a game-tying single to Joey Votto.
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A half-inning later, Walker redirected a JC Ramirez pitch into the right-field stands, sending the Mets toward their fourth straight victory and ninth in 11 games.
"It's nice to get off to this start individually," Walker said. "But for us to not start real well the first week, and then be playing baseball like we are, it makes everything easier when the lineup's kind of rolling."

The late rally gave Syndergaard a no-decision to match Reds starter Raisel Iglesias, who needed 102 pitches to complete five innings. A two-run homer from Lucas Duda and a solo shot by Michael Conforto accounted for all the damage off Iglesias, who struck out seven.
Conforto reached base in all four of his plate appearances, finishing 3-for-3 with a walk. That offense helped the Mets extend their franchise record with a ninth consecutive win over the Reds, dating back to 2014.

"I don't want to get back to this point where we talk about 'rebuild' and what we're not supposed to do and who we're not supposed to be, because we were in that ballgame all the way to the end, and Walker got us on a two-strike pitch for a homer," Reds manager Bryan Price said after his team's fourth loss in a span of five games. "But we fought hard, and we should expect to win these close games against the better teams."

The win was preserved by Jeurys Familia, who recorded two groundouts and a strikeout in the ninth inning for his sixth save in as many chances.
Deep and gone: Walker's eighth home run of April was perhaps his most impactful one yet, snapping a tie to give the Mets a 5-3 lead. The blast gave Walker more homers in April than in any previous calendar month of his career, tying him with Jeff Kent for the most by a second baseman in any month in Mets history. Only Dave Kingman (1976), Carlos Delgado (2006) and John Buck (2013) recorded more home runs in a month, all of them with nine.  More >

Billy Ball:Billy Hamilton manufactured the Reds' first run leading off the third inning. Hamilton first push-bunted a single over the mound toward second base. With Syndergaard showing a weakness against the running game, Hamilton stole second base and then swiped third with the same batter, Zack Cozart, up. Hamilton scored and made it a 1-1 game when Cozart hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Cincinnati would steal five bases against Syndergaard in the game, matching its season high.

"You know, d'Arnaud throws well," Price said of Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who exited in the eighth inning with right shoulder pain. "Syndergaard threw over a lot. He varied his times to the plate. I think we just did a nice job. They certainly weren't just giving it to us. They made a very concerted effort to try to keep us close to the base, first and second base. We were just able to take some bags and create some scoring opportunities."
"I've got to work on holding runners a little bit better and being a little quicker toward home plate," Syndergaard said. "A lot of it was my mechanics."
Perfect Conforto: The biggest blow for Conforto, who continues to thrive in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, was a first-inning homer off Iglesias that Statcast™ projected to land 422 feet from home plate. It was the longest homer by a Mets player this season and the fourth longest of Conforto's career.

"I'm definitely seeing it well," Conforto said. "I felt like I've been seeing it well all season. It definitely makes you comfortable at the plate and makes things a lot easier for you."
Iglesias showed lower velocity: Iglesias was charged with three runs, eight hits, two walks and two home runs to go with the seven K's. Although he did top out at 92 and 93 mph, several of his pitches were in the upper 80s. There was some intent behind that, however.

"I wasn't focused today on throwing hard," Iglesias said via translator Julio Morillo. "I was worried more about hitting spots. It's something that I saw the other pitchers were doing against the Mets. Today, I tried to hit spots."
Syndergaard's nine strikeouts gave him 38 over his first four rotation turns, matching Pedro Martinez in 2005 for the most in franchise history through four starts to open a season.

Thanks to Conforto, the Mets scored first for a 12th consecutive game, breaking the previous franchise record of 11 set in 1987 and '91.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was hit on the left ring finger by an 0-2 fastball from Syndergaard in the top of the fourth inning and did not remain in the game. Phillips, who was replaced by Ivan De Jesus Jr., underwent X-rays that came back negative. He went 1-for-2 with an infield single, extending his road hitting streak vs. the Mets to 33 games -- his career total of games played in Flushing.  More >

d'Arnaud will see a doctor before Tuesday night's game to determine the severity of the issue.

Reds: When they resume this three-game set at Citi Field on Tuesday night at 7:10 ET, the Reds will start lefty Brandon Finnegan, who was on the wrong end of a no-hitter on Thursday, when he allowed five earned runs over four innings but expressed confidence in his stuff afterward.
Mets: In Finnegan, the Mets will face a left-handed starter for just the second time this season. Reserves Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores should both be in the lineup as a result, while Yoenis Cespedes' right leg injury means that Conforto may also draw a start. Right-hander Bartolo Colon will oppose Finnegan, looking to move into sole possession of second place on the career wins list among Dominican-born pitchers with No. 220.
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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006,

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for

since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.