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NYM@CIN: Leake pitches 6 1/3 good innings vs. Mets

CINCINNATI -- After winning back-to-back games for the first time in over a month this past weekend, the Reds stuck with their usual daytime-only red jerseys once again.

The mojo was a no-go during a 4-2 Reds loss against the Mets, because superstition couldn't trump a familiar problem and an unfamiliar foil on Monday night.

Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey faced Cincinnati for the first time, and his fluttering pitches gave hitters some fits. Yet there were numerous opportunities to take hold of the game. The missing big hit was an issue again as the Reds went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11. The Mets scored all of their runs in the top of the seventh.

"We had chances a couple of times," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They got the hits when they needed them and we didn't."

Reds starter Mike Leake has given up a total of three earned runs his last two starts and has been handed two losses. Leake gave up two runs and eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, with two walks and three strikeouts.

"I did what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to go out there and not give up runs," Leake said. "Our offense will come around. We've been slumping, but we'll be fine."

Leake and Dickey exchanged zeroes for five innings to start the game, but Dickey was cruising with only 57 pitches spent.

"There's no excuses, but Dickey messed me up for the remainder of the game," second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "I was so used to swinging at the high pitch."

In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds finally got to Dickey as Miguel Cairo led off with a lined single into center field. Phillips drove a one-out RBI double off the wall in right-center field for a 1-0 lead. Fred Lewis followed with a walk, but the rally was cut short when Ramon Hernandez grounded to shortstop for an inning-ending double play.

Leake had 102 pitches through six innings before New York broke through in the top of the seventh.

"That's how things usually go. It usually doesn't take very long to unravel," Baker said. "Bad series of events there."

Jose Reyes hit a one-out single before Justin Turner lofted a single over Phillips' head in shallow right field to put runners on the corners. Leake was lifted for Bill Bray, who got Carlos Beltran to hit a sacrifice fly to center field that tied the game.

Baker summoned right-hander Logan Ondrusek, who hadn't allowed a run his last 11 appearances and a 1.53 ERA overall. In the rare off-night, Ondrusek was unable to hold down the Mets and gave up three straight hits. After David Wright's single, Daniel Murphy hit a two-run double to the right-field corner and Jason Bay hit an RBI double to right field for a 4-1 Mets lead.

"Sometimes you throw well, you get beat, sometimes you throw bad, you get out of stuff," Ondrusek said. "Tonight, I felt like I made good pitches. They just found holes and picked up balls in perfect spots where guys could keep running."

Huge chances presented themselves to the Reds in the seventh and ninth innings.

In the seventh, Paul Janish notched his third hit of the game with a one-out double to the left-field corner. Drew Stubbs' two-out RBI single made it a two-run game. Reliever Pedro Beato walked Cairo on four pitches to keep the rally alive.

Lefty Tim Byrdak was summoned for the lefty-hitter Jay Bruce. Last September, when Byrdak was with the Astros, Bruce hit a first-pitch walk-off homer that clinched the National League Central for Cincinnati. This time, Byrdak got Bruce to swing at three straight pitches for the inning-ending strikeout.

In the ninth, after an error and a Cairo chopped single put two on with two outs, Bruce drew a five-pitch walk from closer Jason Isringhausen to load the bases for Phillips.

"I wasn't going to give into him," Isringhausen said of Bruce. "I've seen too many highlights of him hitting home runs for walk-offs. I was going to try to do anything I could to keep him in the ballpark there. If I walk him, I walk him."

The game ended when Phillips struck out. At 50-52, the Reds missed a shot at returning to a .500 record and inching closer in the four-way race in the National League Central.

So much for the red jerseys.

"I hear it came from up top," Leake said of the decision to wear them. "Like the Brewers, they were keeping their pinstripes going. I think we were trying that.

"Hopefully we'll put together a string of five or six or seven together soon, just to take some pressure off people. The good thing is this division is still up for grabs. Even though we're not even close to mid-stride, all these other teams are letting us stay in it."

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