Javier Baez’s first night as a Met featured a curtain call, but it was Brandon Drury who brought the house down in extra innings.
After Dominic Smith tied the game in the ninth inning with the Mets down to their last strike, Drury won it for them in the 10th on a walk-off single to complete the comeback in a 5-4 win over the Reds at Citi Field.
Drury, in the lineup for the slumping Michael Conforto, scored automatic runner Kevin Pillar from second and improved to 11-for-15 since being recalled from Triple-A on July 24, setting off a wild celebration on the field.
Edwin Diaz flirted with danger in the top of the 10th. He allowed the automatic runner to take third with a wild pitch and then walked Jesse Winker with no outs. But he came back to strike out Kyle Farmer and Joey Votto before getting Tyler Naquin to fly out to end the frame.
The Mets (55-48) snapped a two-game skid on a night when Baez, acquired from the Cubs before Friday’s trade deadline, debuted with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Baez had a chance to play hero in the ninth, coming to the plate as the game-winning run with a runner on first and no outs. Luis Guillorme, who pinch-ran for Jeff McNeil, moved to second on a wild pitch during Baez’s at-bat, but Heath Hembree rebounded to strike out Baez on a slider outside the zone with a full count.
Hembree then struck out James McCann before the Reds called on lefty Sean Doolittle to face the left-handed hitting Smith.
But Smith has hit lefties well this season and continued that trend, poking a single to center field to score Guillorme from second and tie the game at four.
Baez’s two-run homer in the sixth inning got Citi Field on its feet and chanting his name — leading to his curtain call — but it could have been even bigger. One batter earlier, Jonathan Villar had gotten picked off second base for the first out of the inning. It loomed large as Baez’s 412-foot shot to left field only cut the deficit to 4-3 instead of tying the game at four.
Making his second start for the Mets since being acquired in a trade from the Rays, Rich Hill largely cruised through the first three innings before running into trouble in his final two innings. He gave up four runs — all of them coming with two outs — across five innings. The 41-year-old lefty has now allowed seven runs in his first 10 innings as a Met.
With a runner on first and two outs in the fourth inning, Hill got hurt with two strikes. He walked Aristides Aquino on a full count before his 2-2 pitch to Eugenio Suarez got crushed into the second deck in left field for a three-run home run that put the Mets into a 3-1 hole.
The Reds threatened for more as Hill followed by hitting his second batter of the night and giving up a double to Shogo Akiyama. But Dominic Smith saved Hill and the Mets from further damage, stranding the runners at second and third with a sliding shoestring catch in left field to end the inning.
The Reds tacked on another run in the fifth inning as Farmer crushed a solo shot off Hill for the 4-1 lead.
Votto nearly entered the record books in the eighth inning off Seth Lugo. He roped a long fly ball to right field that hit off the top of the wall, just narrowly missing what would have been a home run in an eighth straight game — which stands as the MLB record by Don Mattingly, Ken Griffey Jr. and Dale Long.
Instead, Votto settled for a single that put runners on the corners with no outs. Lugo came back to strike out the next two batters before Aaron Loup relieved him and got out of the threat by picking off a runner.