NEW YORK -- If Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd were around the Reds these days, they would go on about their "wild and crazy" innings. Since this 11-game road trip started in Chicago, there has been a few of those like the nine-run seventh inning on Friday and the eight-run, four-homer seventh on Sunday. And in another nutty time at the yard on Monday, the Reds held off the Mets with an 8-6 win as they were helped by a six-run fifth inning in a game that was anything but smooth. Two home runs by Joey Votto also proved important one day after he was snubbed for a bid to the All-Star Game.
"My home runs wouldn't have meant anything unless we got the win," said Votto, who had a 3-for-4 night. "We held them off after they made a pretty good push to match our six runs." First-place Cincinnati, now a season-high 12 games over .500 at 48-36, has won five of its past six games and 11 of 14. It moved to two full games over the idle Cardinals in the National League Central standings -- the largest lead the Reds have had since May 29. It was a 1-1 game in the Reds' fifth with the bases loaded and no outs, when Scott Rolen was called out by hone-plate umpire Jerry Meals on a foul-tip strike three. Rolen, who thought the pitch hit him on the right forearm, had already trotted toward first base and asked Meals to reconsider. After a chat with his crew for several moments, Meals reversed his call, which allowed Brandon Phillips to score. Mets manager Jerry Manuel was ejected after a lengthy argument. "I knew something wasn't right. People weren't advancing," Rolen said. "I thought he maybe thought I swung. He said he thought I fouled the ball off. If you saw the replays, he got the call right, which was helpful for us obviously. Good for them, they got the call right." "There's no way it hit his forearm. I don't even think it was close," Mets starter Mike Pelfrey countered. Pelfrey, who entered the night 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA this season at home, picked up two outs after the disputed play before the Reds pounced. Drew Stubbs hit a two-run single into left field and Corky Miller sliced an RBI double inside right-field foul line. Even starting pitcher Travis Wood got into the act by launching a RBI triple over the head of center fielder Angel Pagan. Then the Reds had to hold on tight. Wood, originally the Reds starter for Tuesday, was pressed into service for his second big league start when Aaron Harang was scratched with a sore back. The rookie pitched 4 2/3 innings. Wood nearly qualified for a win until he was roughed up in a five-run Mets fifth. It started with Pagan's leadoff homer and a one-out triple by David Wright. Ike Davis hit a squib toward the mound. As Wright scored, Wood couldn't grab the ball and was charged with an error. That led to a two-out walk to Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas' flared RBI single to left field finished Wood. Jordan Smith gave up Alex Cora's two-run double, as the Mets pulled within a run at 7-6. "We were fortunate to get out of that inning with only five," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose club is 4-1 on the road trip so far. "We were trying to give Wood a chance to win his first game in the big leagues." With Baker short from the right side in his bullpen because Nick Masset was unavailable, he stuck with Smith (2-1) for the sixth and seventh. Other than an infield single by Pagan, the rookie reliever shut down New York for the victory. Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect eighth and Francisco Cordero had a one-walk ninth for his 23rd save. Votto, one of the five All-Star Final Vote candidates from the National League, had already hit his first homer of the game into the housing of the giant apple in center field in the top of the first inning. Votto's second blast, a shot to right field off Fernando Nieve in the sixth, gave the Reds insurance. It also gave Votto 21 long balls for the season -- good for the top mark in the National League. While it would be natural to connect the dots, Votto said he wasn't taking his frustration about being overlooked for the NL All-Star team out on the Mets. "I've honestly moved past it," Votto said. "I'm hopeful for Thursday, and hopefully people give me a second chance and pick me for the All-Star Game."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.