A day after his home run proved to be the difference, Bruce looks to continue pounding the Mets as the Cincinnati Reds attempt to extend their dominance at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
Bruce, a career .257 hitter, is on an 11-game hitting streak. The right fielder owns a .400 average with five homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs in that stretch.
He's also approaching his career-high 13-game hit streak set as a rookie July 27-Aug. 9, 2008.
Bruce has been just as effective against the Mets of late, going 10 for 27 (.370) with five homers, four doubles and 11 RBIs in the last seven meetings. He has two hits in each of the last four matchups, with three homers, four doubles and seven runs in that span.
Bruce was at it again Monday, hitting a go-ahead shot as Cincinnati (27-18) took the opener of this three-game set 4-3, its eighth win in 10 games at Citi Field.
Leake's latest effort was his best of the season, as the right-hander scattered nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 win at Miami on Wednesday. He had lost two of his previous three outings with a 5.17 ERA.
"He's doing better than some of the guys on our staff," Baker said of the possibility of Leake losing his rotation spot. "I don't understand why it was coming down between him and somebody else anyway. Leake has pitched well. It shouldn't have been thought of."
Leake has posted a 1.65 ERA in four starts versus the Mets, but is just 1-1 in those games as he received two or fewer runs of support in three of them.
Davis hasn't posed a threat to anyone this season, as his .152 average is third-worst in the major leagues.
The first baseman has been particularly bad over the past nine games, going 1 for 33 with 13 strikeouts. He's 6 for 30 with two RBIs in nine career home meetings with Cincinnati.
New York has dropped four in a row and nine of 11 at home, averaging 2.2 runs in that span.
Jonathon Niese (3-4, 5.40) will try to build on his longest start of the season. The left-hander yielded two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win at St. Louis on Thursday, ending the Mets' season high-tying six-game losing streak. He had allowed 15 runs in 8 1-3 innings over his previous two starts.
Niese has gone 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA while giving up six homers in four starts against the Reds, losing both home outings.
One of those came June 16, a 4-1 defeat in which he allowed a three-run first-inning homer to Bruce before surrendering another run and leaving after the seventh.
The Mets' Marlon Byrd has gone 6 for 16 (.375) with two homers and six RBIs over his last six games.
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|New York Mets|
|May 14, 2013||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 09, 2013||Jeurys Familia||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|April 29, 2013||David Wright||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|April 23, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Lower right leg contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Neck strain|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Any time a starting pitcher steps into the batter's box before he stands on the mound, he's in pretty good shape. Mike Leake enjoyed that luxury Tuesday night.
Leake pitched three-hit ball for seven sharp innings and the Cincinnati Reds parlayed star third baseman David Wright 's early error into a 4-0 victory over the New York Mets .
Leake, one of the majors' best-hitting pitchers, struck out to end the top of the first inning. The Reds already led 3-0 by then, scoring all those runs after Wright let a bases-loaded, two-out grounder skip through his legs.
"It always helps a little bit," Leake said. "It helps you relax a little bit. It lets you attack hitters, instead of being timid."
Devin Mesoraco homered as the Reds won for the ninth time in 11 games. And for the second straight day, they opened a 3-0 lead over the Mets in the opening inning.
Leake (4-2) struck out four, walked two and became the latest pitcher to shut down the Mets at Citi Field. New York has lost 10 of 12 at home, rarely scoring many runs.
Leake escaped his biggest jam by retiring slumping Ike Davis on a grounder with runners on second and third to end the fourth.
"Everything was seeming to work," Leake said.
The 25-year-old righty has never pitched a shutout in the majors, and was pulled for reliever Sam LeCure to begin the eighth.
LeCure and Logan Ondrusek each threw a hitless inning to finish up.
Jonathon Niese (3-5) wasn't charged with an earned run, but he hurt himself with continuing control troubles. He walked three, all on full counts in the first inning.
Niese set down the first two batters of the night before Joey Votto walked, Brandon Phillips looped a single and Jay Bruce walked.
Todd Frazier followed with a hard grounder right at Wright, and the ball bounced under his glove and let two runs score. Earlier this season, Wright ran his errorless streak to 77 games, a team record for third basemen.
"That ball was scorched," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I know they called it an error, but whatever happened to the old `too hot to handle?"'
Either way, the Reds were on their way.
"It was hit sharply and just got a tricky in-between hop," Wright said. "I looked at the replay and trying to learn what I could have done differently and really couldn't do much."
"Just wish the ball would have found the glove because Jon Niese settled in and was fantastic those next five innings and really did a nice job saving the bullpen. So I wish I could have made that one," he said. "When things aren't going so great, one play like that can cost you a game and it did today."
Donald Lutz then beat out an infield hit that reloaded the bases and Mesoraco drew another walk that forced home a run. Niese struck out Leake to end an inning in which he threw 48 pitches, and walked off the mound holding the glove in his throwing hand.
"That's what you want to do - jump `em early," Baker said. "Break the spirit of the opposing pitcher. A lot times, they think they're throwing good in the bullpen and then, `What happened?"'
Mesoraco hit reliever Collin McHugh 's first pitch in the ninth for his second home run.
Votto extended his hitting streak to 10 games while Bruce's string ended at 11.
NOTES: Reds SS Zack Cozart returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a stomach illness. ... Reds CF Shin-Soo Choo got a day off. ... Mets ace RHP Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA) starts Wednesday afternoon vs. RHP Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91). ... The win made the Reds 146-145 all-time when visiting the Mets, including games at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and Citi Field. ... Niese struck out seven. He has walked 27 and fanned 31 this season. ... The Mets have scored three runs or less in nine straight home games. ... The Reds improved to 12-12 on the road this year.