CINCINNATI (AP) — Max Scherzer delivered a great performance for the New York Mets on his return from an oblique injury.
Perhaps more importantly for the NL East leaders, the ace righthander was feeling good all the time on a steamy Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
Scherzer struckout 11 batters while he doubled six innings, but New York lost 1-0 to the last place Reds on Mike Moustakas’ game-ending sacrifice fly.
Scherzer, who turns 38 in three weeks, had been sidelined by a strained oblique muscle to his left. It was his first big league-game since May 18.
“I felt great,” he said. “No problem at all today. Felt strong all the way. (The oblique) never tightened me up, so that’s a good thing.”
Mets manager Buck Showalter knocked out Scherzer after 79 throws – mostly fastballs and sliders – but the ace believed he could have gone deeper into the game.
“This is a good problem to have,” Scherzer said. “Buck is going to make the best decision for the ball club and for my health and my long-term health, so I fully understand where he’s coming from. That said, I had no issues tonight. I felt good. I felt strong I didn’t tighten anything up. I wanted to get to that 90, 95 pitch count.”
Tommy Pham led off the Cincinnati in ninth with a double into the rightfield corner against Seth Lugo (1-2). It was the Reds’ fourth goal of the game.
Tyler Naquin was walked intentionally before Donovan Solano walked to load the bases. Moustakas’ deep ball to the center drove Pham in with the game winner.
“It’s kind of how you want to set it up if you’re going to win the game,” Moustakas said. “You just get a throw to hit and don’t miss it.”
Reds rookie Nick Lodolo combined with four relievers on a six-hitter. Lodolo struckout eight batters and gave up only three hits in 4 2/3 innings in his return from a back injury.
It was Lodolo’s first Major League-game since April 24.
“Lodolo – as good as he was – that lineup made him work,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He was really on a mission.”
Hunter Strickland (2-2) retired the side for the win.
“I’m so happy for the bullpen, they kept us there,” Bell said.
“I know the players are frustrated to have an outing like this, but I knew their pitcher would be a challenge for the game,” Showalter said of Lodolo. “By watching a lot of things about him and talking to people, we knew he was going to be a challenge for us tonight. I was hoping it wouldn’t be as big a challenge as it ended up being.”
The Reds threatened in the eighth to put runners on second and third base with one out. But Tommy Hunter got Jonathan India to jump out and Brandon Drury to fly to the right.
There was a 53 minute delay before the start of the match. But it never rained.
Pham prevented a possible extra-base hit in the Mets ninth when he went into the left corner of the field to catch a deep swipe from Jeff McNeil’s bat.
Reds: RHP Tony Santillan (back) was moved to the 60-day injured list. … RF Tyler Naquin (strained quadriceps) was back in the lineup for the first time since May 31.
The Reds claimed righthander Ian Gibaut from waivers from the Dodgers. They also chose utilityman Max Schrock and catcher Mark Kolozsvary to Triple-A Louisville. Catcher Chris Okey was designated for assignment. … To make room on the roster for Scherzer, the Mets appointed left-handed Chasen Shreve for assignment.
Righthander Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.53 ERA) starts for the Reds against Mets lefty David Peterson (5-1, 3.24 ERA). Ashcraft was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings last week in a 15-7 loss to the Cubs. Peterson is off the paternity list to start for New York.
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