Chris Young and the New York Mets were in trouble all game and kept escaping. Then Jay Bruce took a final swing.
Bruce hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning and the Cincinnati Reds won their fourth game in a row, beating the Mets 3-0 Tuesday night.
The NL Central leaders and the Mets were a combined 0 for 18 with runners in scoring position before Bruce connected with no outs.
"The ultimate goal is to contribute to a win," Young said. "You try to hold it close and hope your team can scratch out a run."
Young allowed eight hits and four walks and threw a wild pitch in 5 2-3 innings.
The Reds left 14 runners on base, the Mets stranded 10 against Mat Latos and the Cincinnati bullpen.
"Chris had better command and better stuff. He executed his game plan to perfection with guys on base," manager Terry Collins said. "We talked all summer about getting David (Wright) some help and he's not swinging the bat like he was in April. We had opportunities. We have to find a way to score with runners on base and less than two outs."
The Mets left the bases loaded in the fourth when Young's bid for a hit was snagged by All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips.
"I hit it pretty good," Young said. "Phillips is a great second baseman. If he's not the best, he's right there."
Wright, the Mets' All-Star third baseman was 0 for 3. He was caught stealing in the eighth after his leadoff walk.
"You have to tip your hat to their pitchers," Young said.
The Reds' defense, which went into the game tied for the best overall fielding percentage in the league, also saved at least one run in the ninth. After appearing to misjudge the ball, center fielder Drew Stubbs made a backhanded shoetop catch of Ruben Tejada's sinking liner with two outs and runners on second and third.
Phillips drew a leadoff walk in the ninth from Manny Acosta (1-3), New York's fifth pitcher. Ryan Ludwick followed with single that sent Phillips to second.
Left-handed reliever Josh Edgin came in to face the lefty-hitting Bruce, who sent a drive into the left-field seats. It was Bruce's 23rd homer of the season and second in the Reds' last two games — both off lefties.
Jose Arredondo (5-2) wound up with the win.
Both teams went into the game after getting Monday off. The Mets opened a six-game road trip, while the Reds started a grueling stretch of 17 games in 16 days.
NOTES: Mets RHP Tim Byrdak expects to have surgery on Sept. 5 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder. Byrdak went on the disabled list on Aug. 2 and will miss the rest of the season. ... Reds RHP Homer Bailey watched fellow Texan Andy Roddick play in the Western & Southern Open in suburban Cincinnati on Tuesday.