By HOWIE RUMBERG AP Sports Writer NEW YORK (AP) Bronson Arroyo was standing on third base laughing about his blooped bunt that landed beyond the pitcher’s mound for a base hit earlier in the seventh inning.
It’s easy to feel giddy when almost everything is on target.
Arroyo outpitched Jonathon Niese in a crisp duel, and the Cincinnati Reds used two more long balls and a few fine plays in the field to beat the New York Mets 3-1 on Wednesday night to win the three-game series.
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I was “saying I was working on that all spring,” Arroyo (9-4) said he told Mets third baseman David Wright. “Sometimes the ball bounces your way.”
Thanks to a sinker that was moving so much he had to start his pitches farther out of the strike zone than usual, the ball was bouncing Arroyo’s way on offense and defense.
Chris Heisey made the biggest play behind Arroyo, a long running catch in the in Citi Field’s spacious right-center field with a runner on second base to end the sixth inning. Heisey then hit a tiebreaking shot in the seventh to help Arroyo improve to 7-2 with a 3.31 ERA for his career against the Mets.
“I thought the ball he hit to right-center was a big play by them,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of Jason Bay’s drive. “It may be the most important play in the game.”
Brandon Phillips homered in the third and had an RBI double in the seventh inning for the Reds, who earned their fifth win in seven games on an 11-game road trip. The victory also gave Cincinnati the season series over New York – 4-2 – for the first time since 2001.
Arroyo and Niese (6-3) both made quick work of the opponents’ potent lineups on another sweltering night in New York – although at 87 degrees for first pitch, it was 9 degrees cooler than Tuesday night.
Angel Pagan hit Arroyo’s seventh pitch of the game for the Mets’ run, and Cincinnati only had Phillips’ homer before Heisey connected with an out in the seventh for their second hit.
Drew Stubbs singled after Heisey hit the Reds’ NL-leading 106th homer. Arroyo bunted the blooper an out after Stubbs’ hit that dropped in between the mound and second base for a single. Then Phillips made it 3-1 with a grounds-rule double to right.
Arroyo made the lead hold up in his second straight stellar start. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Cubs in his last outing. In this one he gave up seven hits and a run without walking a batter over eight innings.
“Other than that home run to Angel Pagan, he was throwing quality strike after quality strike,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He kept them off-balance.”
Francisco Cordero gave up Ike Davis’ leadoff double and a walk in the ninth before finishing for his 24th save in 29 chances to complete Cincinnati’s second victory in three games in New York and end the 2-hour, 25-minute contest.
The Mets threatened in the fifth, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Arroyo struck out Niese and got Jose Reyes, batting right-handed against the righty because his left side that kept him out a week was still not fully healed, bounced back to the mound for the final out.
Arroyo gave up three more singles but Heisey came through in the sixth, racing into the gap near the 415-foot mark on Bay’s drive to strand Wright on second. In the seventh, Thole led off with a single to left but Feliciano wiped him out with a 4-6-3 double play.
“I caught it and I thought I was going to be right next to the fence and I looked back and I still had about 10 feet of grass before the warning track,” Heisey said with a laugh. “There’s hardly any places I played that was as big as this field.”
Niese had only given up seven homers coming in, but the two in this one ended his winning streak at five straight decisions since coming off the disabled list June 5. He struck out eight, matching a career best, and walked one in 7 2-3 innings.
“We’ll take that kind of outing from a young pitcher every time,” Manuel said.
NOTES: Cincinnati has a major league-leading 27 comeback wins this season … LHP Matt Maloney, who made his first start for Reds on Tuesday, will start Sunday in Philadelphia. Baker said RHP Edinson Volquez (elbow reconstruction surgery last August) needs one more rehab start … Mets CF Carlos Beltran (knee) went 1 for 1 with a double and a walk for Class A St. Lucie in a game suspended by rain after five.