- Associated Press - Thursday, April 28, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Facing the defending National League champions on their home turf was going to be a tough task for Cincinnati.

Bryan Price’s club kept things close the entire series. In the end, they left New York without a win.

Neil Walker hit his ninth home run to tie for the major league lead, Matt Harvey won his second straight start and the New York Mets beat Cincinnati 5-2 on Wednesday night to give the Reds their fourth straight loss.

“We faced three really good starting pitchers, but those first two games were winnable games for us,” Price said after the three-game series. “If you want to beat the better teams, you’ve got to be able to play their game, and their game is they don’t give up runs.”

Walker’s third-inning homer off Jon Moscot (0-2) extended the Mets’ lead to 3-1 and tied the team record for home runs in April.

“I fell behind 2-0. I tried to throw him a sinker down and away,” Moscot said. “The guy’s on fire right now.”

Harvey (2-3) won his second consecutive start after losing his first three. He overcame a first-inning home run by Zack Cozart and gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. Mixing a changeup with a fastball that reached 97 mph, Harvey struck out a season-high seven and walked one.

“It was a little bit of a boost at the beginning but we couldn’t hold on,” Cozart said. “But obviously it’s pretty good to get an at-bat like that off Harvey.”

Addison Reed pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. Coming off a weekend sweep at Atlanta, New York has won nine of 10 to close within 1 1/2 games of NL East-leading Washington.

Moscot gave up three runs - one earned - four hits and four walks in five innings. Cincinnati has lost four straight games and 12 of its last 16.

After the homer by Cozart, who raised his average to .397 with a 2-for-4 performance, Ivan DeJesus Jr. singled off Harvey’s butt and onto the outfield grass. Harvey then stuck out Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Devin Mesoraco to escape further damage.

“I obviously left a slider over the middle of the plate and he was ready for it,” Harvey said of Cozart’s shot.

On a night when the Reds made three errors and the Mets two, New York went ahead in the first with two unearned runs.

Lucas Duda drove in Alejandro De Aza on a deep fly that bounced off left fielder Scott Schebler’s glove for a two-base error, and Walker singled in Duda.

Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out in the third before Harvey struck out Suarez, and Walker dove to his right behind second to snare Mesoraco’s liner.

Suarez’s run-scoring single in the fifth pulled the Reds to 3-2, but Michael Conforto greeted Drew Hayes with a two-run double in the sixth.

DADDY’S BACK

Cincinnati right fielder Jay Bruce, whose wife Hannah gave birth to Carter Bruce on Monday night, will rejoin the team on Friday. To make room, the Reds optioned RHP Layne Somsen to Triple-A Louisville following Wednesday’s game.

START ME UP

Cozart’s long ball was his fifth career leadoff homer. He has hit safely in 15 of his 16 games this season, all at the top of the lineup.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips missed his second straight game due to shin inflammation, caused by fouling consecutive pitches off his left foot and shin on Monday. He was also hit on the left ring finger by a pitch during the same at-bat. Price said after the game that Phillips is expected to play on Friday.

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Dan Straily (0-0, 3.50 ERA), making his third start after beginning the season as a long reliever, is to take on LHP Francisco Liriano (1-1, 4.64 ERA) in a series opener Friday at Pittsburgh.

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