Simon tries to get untracked in opener with Mets

( - It's not quite the honor Alfredo Simon was seeking.

The 2014 All-Star is the first Reds pitcher since 1990 to win at least 11 games before the midseason break and then endure a 1-6 stretch afterward, though it's recognition he'll try to distance himself from when he meets the New York Mets Friday night in game one of a three-game set at Great American Ball Park.

Simon was primarily a reliever before being inserted into the starting rotation this season and responding with a 12-3 record through early July that netted him a replacement spot on the National League all-star team.

His initial start in that early season run, in fact, was a 2-1 defeat of the Mets on April 6. Problem is, the magic seems to have long since exited.

Simon has won just one of seven decisions since the break while posting a 4.62 earned run average in nine starts. The last pitcher to experience such contrast with the Reds was Jack Armstrong in their last World Series year, 1990. Armstrong started the All-Star Game that season.

The Reds enter this series after a 1-5 road trip and trying to not fall nine games under .500 for the first time since 2009.

Meanwhile, the Mets are seeking their first three-game win streak since July.

Starting for New York in that quest is Bartolo Colon, who was nicked for six runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

In three previous starts, he'd posted a 1.71 ERA, while dealing with the death of his mother and flying back to the Dominican Republic for the funeral.

The Reds last faced Colon in April 2013 and chased him with five runs in less than three innings while he pitched for Oakland. Prior to that start, he'd not faced the Reds since 2007.

On Thursday in Baltimore, J.J. Hardy hit a two-run single in the seventh inning and the Orioles grabbed a 9-7 victory over the Reds to polish off a three-game sweep.

Devin Mesoraco hit a solo home run and drove in four runs for the Reds, who have dropped five of six. Mike Leake was beaten up for seven runs on seven hits over four innings, while Manny Parra (0-2) was handed the loss.

On Wednesday in Miami, Travis d'Arnaud's RBI double sparked a two-run eighth inning that gave the Mets a 4-3 win over the Marlins.

After Christian Yelich tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, d'Arnaud put the Mets back in front a half inning later. Matt den Dekker, who went 3-for-4 with a double, reached on a drag bunt to start the frame. Lucas Duda singled to chase reliever Mike Dunn (10-6) from the game, and d'Arnaud greeted Bryan Morris by lining the second pitch he saw down to right.

After Kirk Nieuwenhuis was walked intentionally, Duda came home for a crucial insurance run after Dilson Herrera grounded into a fielder's choice.

Jenrry Mejia pitched around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth to record his 23rd save of the year. Carlos Torres (6-5) picked up the win despite serving up Giancarlo Stanton's National League leading 36th homer of the season.

Nieuwenhuis hit a two-run homer for the Mets, winners in three of four. Jacob deGrom went six innings, allowing a run on six hits with six strikeouts.

"I got up there in pitch count early," he said. "I was trying to stay a little more focused tonight. I had a lot of 3-2 counts."