CINCINNATI - Ten straight wins and a share of first place. The New York Mets don’t look like a $138 million disappointment anymore.
Right now, they’re golden.
David Wright’s two-run homer in the ninth inning sparked New York’s biggest comeback of the season Thursday night, a 10-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that extended Mets’ winning streak to 10 games and brought them a share of first place in the NL East.
Playing on the one-month anniversary of manager Willie Randolph’s firing, the Mets blew three leads before coming full-circle with four runs in the ninth.
“We’ve been taking such a beating all year long for how we play the game and what we’ve done wrong and what little we’ve done right,” closer Billy Wagner said. “I love seeing guys who told us two weeks ago how bad we stunk, and now they’re going, ’Well, you’re in first place.’ Yeah.”
They were 6½ games out when they changed managers, fearful that they were playing themselves out of contention with an underachieving offense. Their 10th straight win completed the turnaround — they’re tied for first with Philadelphia, back in the top spot for the first time since April 19.
That once-balky offense made it possible.
Down to their last two outs, the Mets rallied against Francisco Cordero (4-2), who blew a save for the fifth time in 24 chances, getting six straight hits against the closer.
Argenis Reyes singled, and Wright — an All-Star designated hitter at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night — hit a tying homer to right field that barely eluded the glove of leaping Ken Griffey Jr.
That was the spark they needed.
“My slider maybe wasn’t good enough,” Cordero said. “It was one of those nights. Whatever I threw to home plate was going to get hit.”
Carlos Delgado had a tiebreaking single off Cordero, smacking his hands and pumping his firsts as he rounded first base. Fernando Tatis doubled home another run to complete the comeback.
Those three accounted for all the Mets’ runs. Delgado and Tatis had two-run homers off Red starter Johnny Cueto, and Wright had a two-run single.
It was the first time this season the Mets overcame a three-run deficit and won. It was also the first time they rallied for two runs in the ninth to pull one out.
“Winning nine in a row helps,” Wright said of the comeback. “The biggest thing is you win nine in a row and you get that confidence, that ideal that you’re never out of a game. That’s what happened today.”
It appeared that the streak — now matching Minnesota for the longest in the majors this season — was about to end when Javier Valentin hit a bases-loaded double in the seventh for an 8-6 lead. Pitching has been the foundation for the Mets’ winning streak — four shutouts in the six previous games — but Johan Santana and the bullpen repeatedly failed in this one.
“It was one of those days where whatever you do doesn’t go the way you want,” Santana said.
The Reds scored five runs off Santana in the fourth, piling up a single, a double, a two-run triple by Jeff Keppinger and solo homers by Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion. It was Dunn’s 27th homer and sixth in the last eight games.
It wasn’t nearly enough against the majors’ hottest team.
“That hurts big-time,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We played so hard, but we made some mistakes.”
Duaner Sanchez (4-1) escaped a scoring threat in the eighth. Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 29 chances, wiping away the bad taste of his latest All-Star appearance. The left-hander gave up an RBI double in the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, helping the American League rally for a win that gives it home-field advantage once again in the World Series.
So, the streak goes on, now one shy of the club record. The Mets have won 11 straight four times, most recently in June 1990.
“Momentum is one of those strange things,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “You can’t identify it until it’s over. I guess we still have it.”
Notes: Delgado’s homer was his 449th, tying Jeff Bagwell for 33rd on the career list. ... The last time the Mets won 10 straight was in July 1991. ... Mets RHP Pedro Martinez will miss his scheduled start Sunday against the Reds. He got an injection Thursday to help his groin strain heal. He could start Tuesday against Philadelphia. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey will start in Martinez’s place Sunday. Pelfrey hasn’t allowed a run in his last 16 innings. ... The Reds put INF Jerry Hairston Jr. on the 15-day DL with a pulled hamstring and activated INF Jolbert Cabrera off the DL. Cabrera dislocated his left index finger sliding into a base on June 21. ... Encarnacion had three hits and extended his hitting streak to five games. He’s 11-for-19 during the streak.
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