Shin-Soo Choo drove in the winning run with a single off the wall in the 10th inning, and the Cincinnati Reds secured a playoff spot Monday night after beating the New York Mets 3-2.
Second-place Cincinnati clinched at least an NL wild card when Washington lost to first-place St. Louis 4-3 moments after the Reds’ game ended. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said there would be no celebration of a wild-card clinching, not with a second straight NL Central title still in play.
David Aardsma pitched out of a bases-loaded threat in the ninth, retiring Todd Frazier on a flyout. Greg Burke (0-3) gave up a one-out single by Devin Mesoraco in the 10th, and Derrick Robinson singled him to third. Choo followed with his third hit of the game off left-hander Sean Henn, a drive off the wall in left-center.
Manny Parra (2-3) allowed one hit in the 10th.
It was a notable win for the Reds – their 90th of the season, the third time in the last four years that they’ve reached the mark under Baker. They haven’t had so many 90-win seasons since the Big Red Machine of the 1970s.
Johnny Cueto made a second solid start since coming off the disabled list, an encouraging sign for Cincinnati’s postseason plans. The right-hander has been sidelined three times by soreness near his shoulder.
He gave up two runs – one earned – on Lucas Duda’s sacrifice fly and his solo homer, which snapped an 0-for-17 slump. In two starts, Cueto has allowed eight hits and one earned run in 12 innings.
The Reds got two runs in six innings off Aaron Harang, who made his third start for the Mets. Choo singled home a run in the second and Joey Votto got one of his career-high five walks with the bases loaded.
Harang is 3-0 in four career starts against the Reds, including a 4-2 victory with Seattle on July 5 at Great American Ball Park. The Mariners later released him with a 5-11 record.
The Reds sustained their hopes of another division title by winning another long game – they’re 13-9 in extra innings.
Last September, Baker was in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke when the Reds clinched the NL Central title. They made a video of their spray-away celebration and wished for another when he returned.
It didn’t happy. Cueto had to leave the opening game of the playoffs at San Francisco after only eight pitches because of a strained muscle in his right side. With their rotation in flux, the Reds lost the five-game series.
This season, the Reds have stayed in contention despite losing Cueto, setup relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, and cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick for most of the season. Ludwick tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding into a base on opening day and was out for more than three months.
They were six games out on Aug. 9, in danger of falling out of the division’s three-team race. They regrouped and have taken the race down to the final week by winning 12 of their last 17.
NOTES: David Wright’s hitting streak ended at eight games. … Billy Hamilton got in as a pinch-runner in the eighth and stole second, leaving him 13 for 13 in attempts. The Mets called for a pitchout but Frank Francisco threw it over the plate. … Votto has walked 132 times this season, tying Joe Morgan’s club record from 1975. The five walks also tied a club record. … RHP Mike Leake (14-6) starts for the Reds on Tuesday against LHP Jonathon Niese (7-8).