K-Rod survives for 2nd save; Mets win

April 8, 2009 8:26:55 PM PDT
Carlos Delgado homered and drove in four runs Wednesday, getting New York's offense rolling on a clear, cool night that was much more favorable to hitters, and the Mets' rebuilt bullpen barely held on for a 9-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets won the season opener 2-1 on a raw, 37-degree afternoon that showcased their offseason bullpen additions of closers J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. With temperatures in the 50s on a clear Wednesday evening, the offense took over and Rodriguez pitched out of a bases-loaded threat in the ninth to avoid a bullpen collapse.

Delgado hit a two-run homer in the first off Edinson Volquez (0-1), who had problems throwing strikes. The first baseman also drove in a run with a groundout, and singled home another during a four-run seventh inning that made it 9-4.

Brian Schneider's three-run double - the hit skipped past stumbling right fielder Jay Bruce - completed the seventh-inning rally and left the outcome in the hands of a bullpen that was nearly perfect in the opener.

This time, it brought back memories of all those meltdowns last season that cost the Mets a playoff spot.

Starter Mike Pelfrey (1-0) left after five innings with a 5-4 lead. The Reds scored twice in the seventh off Pedro Feliciano, and made one final push against the Mets' closer tandem. Putz gave up a sacrifice fly by Chris Dickerson in the eighth, cutting it to 9-7.

The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Rodriguez, who set a major league record with 62 saves last season for the Angels. Rodriguez struck out Alex Gonzalez on a full-count fastball, and Laynce Nix flied out to the warning track in center field, leaving the closer 2-for-2 in save chances with New York.

Joey Votto had three hits for the Reds, including a three-run homer in the first off Pelfrey.

Volquez, the Reds' top winner and only All-Star last season, had trouble with his control in his final spring training appearance, and was wild again. He lasted only 4 1-3 innings, and needed 107 pitches to get that far. Last year, Volquez tied a major league record by giving up no more than one earned run in each of his first eight starts.

Notes: Gary Sheffield worked in the outfield before the game, getting ready to play eventually. Sheffield, who was Detroit's DH, was released last week and signed a one-year deal with the Mets. Manager Jerry Manuel said he could play as soon as this weekend. "We're just trying to get him into outfield shape more than anything else," Manuel said. ... Sheffield, who has 499 career homers, is available to pinch hit. He has one career pinch-hit homer, off former Reds reliever Jeff Brantley on July 20, 1994, in Cincinnati. ... Reds CF Willy Taveras was out of the lineup for the second game because of an illness. He pinch hit and tripled off Putz in the eighth. ... Jerry Hairston Jr. started in center for the Reds, but left the game an inning after he fouled a pitch off his lower left leg.


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