Díaz gets 1st big league save since October 2022 as Mets hold off Reds 3-2

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Saturday, April 6, 2024

CINCINNATI -- - Edwin Díaz pitched out of trouble in the ninth inning to earn his first major league save since October 2022, and the New York Mets held off the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Friday night.

Jeff McNeil broke out of a slump with his first home run of the season and Jose Quintana provided a solid start as the Mets won their second straight one-run game after opening 0-5.

It's been a long road back for Díaz, who missed last season following knee surgery. This was his fourth appearance of the year, but he was pitching on back-to-back days for the first time.

"It means a lot," Díaz said of his first save. "The ball was moving great today. My first three outings were no problem. I had to make my pitches tonight."

New York avoided its first 0-6 start since 1963 by scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to beat Detroit 2-1 in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader. The Mets were hitless through seven innings in that game.

The offense sputtered again on Friday.

New York had the bases loaded with one out in both the fifth and seventh. But the Mets only mustered two runs, one on Francisco Lindor's sacrifice fly and another on an error by shortstop Elly De La Cruz.

Díaz ran into trouble in the ninth when his fielding error allowed Jonathan India to reach, and Spencer Steer walked.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand grounded to shortstop, but Lindor did not touch second base in time to force pinch-runner Bubba Thompson. Lindor's throw to first retired Encarnacion-Strand, and the Mets challenged the safe call at second - which was upheld following a replay review.

India scored on Jeimer Candelario's sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. Thompson then advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Díaz struck out Jake Fraley for his first regular-season save since Oct. 4, 2022.

After signing a $102 million, five-year contract, the star closer injured his knee in March 2023 while celebrating on the field after Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"It was good, not only to get the save, but being able to work with some trouble," Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. "Back-to-back for the first time, game on the line, really good effort."

The Reds squandered a bases-loaded chance in the seventh when Brooks Raley threw a called third strike past De La Cruz to end the threat.

McNeil launched a solo homer off Emilio Pagan to make it 3-1 in the eighth. Before connecting, the 2022 big league batting champion had one hit in 18 at-bats this season.

"He's grinding it right now," Mendoza said. "But he's a good hitter. It was good to see him put a good swing on it and put the ball out of the ballpark."

Before the game, McNeil found a case of batting gloves in his locker inscribed with a note from teammate Brandon Nimmo that read: "Swing at good pitches and hit it where they're not."

"I did that today," McNeil said. "There's nobody in the right-field bleachers."

Reds starter Hunter Greene allowed one run and three hits in six innings, retiring 10 straight batters during one stretch.

"Hunter just keeps getting better," Reds manager David Bell said. "He has that kind of stuff that you can trust in the zone. He is going to get better and better as he fine-tunes his pitches."

Quintana allowed a run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, including Steer's homer in the first. He walked four.

"It was cold," Quintana said. "Grinding. Close game. It was the kind of outing where you need to keep fighting every single pitch."

Drew Smith (1-0) worked a scoreless inning for the win. Fernando Cruz (0-1) took the loss.

Brett Baty's diving stab of Steer's line drive at third base prevented the Reds from scoring the go-ahead run in the fifth.

"The more he goes out there, his confidence continues to show up," Mendoza said. "Great jump. Not an easy play. In a game like this, every play matters."


Mets: Nimmo (right hamstring tightness) sat out but is expected to return to the lineup Saturday.

Reds: RHP Ian Gibaut (right forearm strain) began a rehab assignment at Class A Dayton.


Reds RHP Nick Martinez (0-0, 5.40 ERA) starts Saturday against Mets RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 5.40).


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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