Cincinnati, OH – Daniel Murphy smashed a three-run homer and Jonathan Niese held the Reds in check over seven innings, as the New York Mets dealt a blow to Cincinnati's division title hopes with a 4-2 victory Tuesday.
Murphy had two hits, as did Eric Young and David Wright, and Wilfredo Tovar knocked in a run for New York, which beat the Reds for the first time in five tries this season.
The Reds were unable to capitalize off Niese (8-8), who allowed just a pair of runs to score despite scattering eight hits and a walk.
"When my shoulder is healthy, for the most part I think I can throw the ball where I want to and minimize the mistakes," Niese said.
Devin Mesoraco knocked in a run in the setback for playoff-bound Cincinnati, which has just four games to play and fell three back of the NL Central- leading Cardinals, who defeated Washington on Tuesday.
Mike Leake (14-7) managed to get only five outs, with his 21 1/3-inning scoreless streak ending in the second inning. He was charged with all of New York's runs and eight of its 10 hits.
"I wasn't making pitches and they were making me pay," said Leake.
Juan Lagares prevented Cincinnati from getting on the board in the bottom of the first, throwing a strike from center field to nail Shin-Soo Choo at the plate.
Tovar was then thrown out at home in the next half-frame for New York, but not before staking the visitors to a 1-0 lead with a base hit up the middle to score Mike Baxter, who doubled to begin the inning.
Leake got the second out when Tovar was tagged at home on Niese's base hit, but preceded to give up a double to Young before Murphy capped a 10-pitch at- bat with a line drive into the right field seats for a 4-0 edge. The Reds' right-hander gave up six hits in the frame, with the last a single from Wright that had Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker calling for his bullpen.
Todd Frazier doubled to begin the home second and eventually came around to score on a Mesoraco groundout. Niese stranded a runner at third in the fourth, and limited the damage with runners at the corners the following inning by inducing Joey Votto into a run-scoring double play that made the score 4-2.
Scott Atchison tossed a 1-2-3 eighth before Vic Black earned his first major league save by inducing Zack Cozart into a game-ending double play in the ninth.
Leake's outing tied the shortest of his career ... It was Murphy's 13th home run of the season, a new career high ... The Reds were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position ... It was Niese's third straight quality start.