- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Johnny Cueto was cruising along until he suddenly developed a problem - with the strike zone, not his sometimes achy elbow.

The Cincinnati ace gave the light-hitting New York Mets exactly the help they needed when he lost his control Friday night, dooming the Reds to a 2-1 defeat.

“Things happen,” Cueto said through a translator.

The Mets returned home from a 1-7 road trip in which they totaled 11 runs, and won despite getting just two hits.

It was 1-all in the fifth when Dilson Herrera tripled with two outs. Cueto (4-5), pitching with eight days’ rest to give his aching right elbow some extra time, hadn’t walked a batter all game until walking Granderson, Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda to force home the go-ahead run.

“I was too much careful in that inning. I did not want to leave the ball in the middle. I was trying to trick them,” Cueto said.

Cueto said he was trying to avoid giving up a big hit that would break open the game.

Duda had already struck out twice, and had fanned 10 times in 15 career at-bats against Cueto, before hanging in after two quick strikes. Catcher Brayan Pena twice went to the mound to talk to Cueto once the count went full.

“I think he was trying to find his way out of that inning without the ball being put in play and he just wasn’t able to make the pitch he needed to to get out of that inning,” manager Bryan Price said.

Curtis Granderson launched a leadoff homer into the second deck on Cueto’s third pitch. Cueto left after the sixth and didn’t have any effects from recent inflammation.

Price said the elbow didn’t cause the rash of walks.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, we talked, no, no. It’s an obvious question. We gave him some extra time, just to let things kind of mellow out a bit and he felt good and he’s felt good through the course of these extra few days,” Price said.

“He had a real good warmup, felt fine all the way throughout, so that was the most encouraging thing,” he said. “He pitched six innings and gave up two runs, so I’m happy with how things turned out and how he came out of it.”

Said Cueto: “At this time there’s nothing wrong with my elbow.”

The Reds lost for the third time in nine games. They got to their New York hotel at 4:17 a.m. after a rain-delayed, 13-inning win at Pittsburgh.

“I don’t think that the late arrival is any factor on who we’re facing. I think that everyone is a little tired, but we’re all professionals and we were prepared to play, they just got the best of us,” outfielder Jay Bruce said.

Rookie Noah Syndergaard (3-4) gave up five singles, walked none and struck out five in a career-high eight innings. He hit 99 mph with his fastball in the first inning and won for the first time in five starts.

The Mets’ infield backed him all night. Shortstop Wilmer Flores, third baseman Ruben Tejada and Herrera at second and Duda at first each made nice plays, and catcher Kevin Plawecki caught a runner trying to steal.

Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 23 chances.

The Reds tied it in the second when Bruce and Pena opened with singles, setting up an RBI grounder by Chris Dominguez.

Brandon Phillips singled in the third, and has hit safely in all 30 games he’s played on the road against the Mets.

EVEN IN NEW YORK

The loss left Cincinnati 148-148 when visiting the Mets over the years at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and Citi Field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: All-Star C Devin Mesoraco will have surgery in New York on Monday to fix an impingement in his left hip. He hasn’t caught since April 12 and has been on the disabled list since May 25.

Mets: 3B Tejada exited soon after being hit in the left elbow by a pitch from Cueto. X-rays were negative, and Tejada has a bruise.

UP NEXT

Reds: Rookie RHP Michael Lorenzen (3-2, 3.56) has won two straight starts. He’s allowed more than three runs just once in nine big league starts.

Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (7-5, 3.18) has given up a total of one run in his last two outings. That followed a string of four rough starts in a row.

STREAKING

Phillips owns the second-longest road hitting streak against the Mets. Luis Castillo hit in 32 straight in Queens from 2001-05.

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