Saturday, April 05, 2014
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Duda Belts Two Homers To Lead Mets Past Reds

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[April 05, 2014]  NEW YORK  The New York Mets earned their first win of the season Friday night  and perhaps found their starting first baseman in the process.

Lucas Duda made quite a first impression in his audition for the first-base job by hitting two-run homers in consecutive at-bats to lead the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field.

The start at first base was the second straight for Duda, but the first since manager Terry Collins informed him after Thursday's game that he would get several starts and the opportunity to distance himself from fellow first basemen Ike Davis and Josh Satin, each of whom had a start in the season's first two games.

"It's great to certainly have him step forward and step up today and do what he did," Collins said. "As we've said many, many times, sometimes it's just about confidence. And maybe once in a while, when you feel good about yourself, you can start to do what everybody expects you to do."

Duda certainly did that Friday, when he made all the routine plays at first while exhibiting both patient plate approach and raw power the Mets have been enamored with since they selected him out of Southern California in the seventh round of the 2007 draft.

Duda worked a five-pitch walk in the first before hitting his first two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Reds starter Mike Leake in the fourth inning. Two innings later, he deposited a 2-1 Leake pitch into the right-field seats for his fifth career two-homer game and his first since April 19, 2013.

Afterward, the famously soft-spoken Duda said he didn't feel any extra confidence or derive any additional satisfaction from the timely performance.

"I was just glad to play," Duda said. "Glad we got the win tonight."

The pair of Duda homers kept the Mets from falling to 0-4 for the fifth time in franchise history and made a winner out of right-hander Jenrry Mejia, who allowed one run and struck out a career-high eight over six innings. Mejia allowed four hits and five walks but stranded seven runners and ended his evening by striking out Leake to leave runners at the corners in the sixth.

A combustible Mets bullpen  New York relievers allowed 12 runs over 9 1/3 innings in the three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals earlier this week  preserved the win, albeit in nail-biting fashion.

Left-hander John Lannan allowed a two-run homer to right fielder Jay Bruce in the seventh before right-hander Kyle Farnsworth tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Farnsworth got an assist from backup catcher Anthony Recker, who entered the game with Farnsworth in a double switch in the seventh and threw out the speedy Billy Hamilton trying to steal second for the second out of the eighth.

Hamilton, who stole a minor league record 155 bases in 2012, is 13-for-15 as a big leaguer and has only been caught by backup Mets catchers. Juan Centeno threw out Hamilton in Cincinnati last Sept. 23.

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"You've got to make a great throw and he made a great throw, right on the money," Collins said. "When you win tough games, you've got to have big plays. And that was a big play for us."

Right-hander Jose Valverde, pitching in his first save opportunity for the Mets, allowed a walk and a single with one out in the ninth but escaped the jam by retiring first baseman Joey Votto on a fly out and striking out Bruce.

"It was a good game for us tonight," Collins said. "We needed it bad."

Bruce went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and all three RBIs for the Reds (1-3), who have opened the season with four straight one-run games.

"It's frustrating to lose," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "And more frustrating to lose by one run than to get blown out."

Center fielder Roger Bernadina drew three walks and catcher Brayan Pena reached base in three of his four plate appearances via two walks and a single.

Leake allowed four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three over 6 2/3 innings.

NOTES: Intermittent daylong rains resumed shortly after the first pitch, but the game started on time  which was surely welcome news to the Reds, who endured a total of six hours and 22 minutes of rain delays on Wednesday and Thursday in Cincinnati. ... Reds RHP Jonathon Broxton, who is on the disabled list with a forearm injury, was scheduled to begin a rehab appearance at Double-A Pensacola on Friday night. Manager Bryan Price said Broxton would pitch again Saturday and could be activated Monday as long as he comes out of the weekend healthy. ... Reds RHP Mat Latos, who underwent left knee surgery on Feb. 14, is scheduled to make his next rehab start on Tuesday for Triple-A Louisville. Latos threw 75 pitches in his first rehab start on Wednesday. ... The Mets' 39 strikeouts through their first three games were four shy of the big league record, set last season by Houston. ... RHP Rafael Montero, one of the Mets' top prospects, threw six shutout innings in his season debut for Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday night.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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