McNeil homers, gets 3 hits as Syndergaard, Mets top Reds 6-4

NEW YORK (AP) — Rookie Jeff McNeil homered in getting three more hits with his most unusual bat, leading Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets over the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 Monday night in a matchup of struggling teams.

Wilmer Flores, playing on his 27th birthday, and Austin Jackson each had three hits and Kevin Plawecki homered for the Mets.

Both clubs had lost five of six going into the series opener. Before it began, Reds pitcher Matt Harvey was honored with a video tribute, with the former Mets ace drawing a mix of cheers and boos in his first game at Citi Field since being traded to Cincinnati in May.

McNeil uses a bat with no knob, something virtually unseen in the majors. Instead, his bat simply flares out at the end — he started using it a couple of years ago in the minors, saying he likes the way it feels so balanced.

The 26-year-old second baseman is 12 for 33 (.364) with two homers in 12 games since making his major league debut this season. He was batting a combined .342 with 19 homers at Triple-A and Double-A when he was called up.

McNeil has eight hits in his last 12 at-bats. He singled during a three-run first inning against Homer Bailey (1-9), singled in a two-run fourth and hit a solo homer into the second deck in right field in sixth.

McNeil’s homer made it 6-0, and Syndergaard (7-2) seemed to be in complete charge when he retired the first batter in the seventh. But he then hit the next two batters with pitches and the Reds went on to rally for four runs.

Jose Peraza‘s RBI single finished Syndergaard, and reliever Bobby Wahl walked Joey Votto with the bases loaded. Eugenio Suarez looped a two-out, two-run single off Robert Gsellman that made it 6-4, but Mason Williams struck out with two runners on base.

Jerry Blevins pitched ninth for his first save of the season, and the sixth of his 12-year career.

Syndergaard’s streak of 13 straight of allowing no more three runs ended. Bailey faced only 21 batters and gave up a season-high 11 hits.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: INF Dilson Herrera is shagging flyballs in batting practice. Cincinnati’s outfield is depleted, with Scott Schebler having his Triple-A rehab assignment stopped last week because of continuing shoulder trouble.

Mets: Longtime Mets 1B Ed Kranepool, in need of a kidney transplant and searching for a donor, threw out the first ball. The 73-year-old made his big league debut at 17 with the expansion 1962 Mets. The popular New York native played 18 seasons in the majors, all with the Mets.

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Sal Romano (6-9, 5.12 ERA) makes his second career road start against the Mets. Born on Long Island and a prep star in Connecticut, the 24-year-old had hundreds of fans in the stands when he pitched at Citi Field last season.

Mets: LHP Jason Vargas (2-7, 8.23) is 0-4 in his last five starts.