CINCINNATI (AP) — Michael Conforto didn’t see how deep his first inning drive sailed into the right field seats.
He knew all he needed to know.
Conforto homered to cap a four-run first inning and the New York Mets kept pace in their wild-card chase with a 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
“I knew it was gone,” he said. “I just ran the bases. It felt good to put us up big in the first inning. I knew we would add on a couple.”
J.D. Davis and Brandon Nimmo also connected for the Mets, who remained 4 ½ games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card berth after the Brewers held off Pittsburgh 4-3.
New York starter Marcus Stroman, battling a bout of nausea, walked the bases loaded with two outs and a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
“It was hard to get my stomach and head in order, but that had nothing to do with it,” Stroman said. “At the end of the day, I didn’t execute. I kind of hurt myself with walks.”
Brad Brach (5-4) came on to get Eugenio Suárez to pop up on the first pitch. Suárez, second in the majors behind Mets rookie Pete Alonso with 48 home runs, slammed his black bat to the ground in frustration.
Alonso went 1 for 4 with a double to remain at 50 home runs. He was intentionally walked in the ninth, drawing a scattering of boos from Mets fans.
Alonso and Robinson Canó doubled in the first inning off Trevor Bauer. Wilson Ramos was hit by a pitch and Conforto launched a three-run homer, his 31st.
“When he hits one like that, watch out,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “His tend to come in bunches.”
Eight of New York’s nine hits went for extra bases.
“I tried to go up and in on Alonso and it got too much of the plate,” Bauer said. “It was a terrible pitch the first hit. I threw the fastball right where I wanted to Conforto, and he hit it. It has been like that the whole year in a lot of cases. I pitch seven innings with six hits and eight strikeouts. The hits have been stacked in the worst possible way.”
The Reds scored in the first on Aristides Aquino’s sacrifice fly, the first of 13 consecutive batters Stroman retired before Kyle Farmer hit his ninth homer, a two-out solo shot in the fifth.
Stroman allowed three hits and two runs with three walks and two strikeouts while lasting 4 2/3 innings, one out short of qualifying for the win.
“If he had to cover first or move violently, he felt the effects,” Callaway said. “He was battling. He did the best he could under the circumstances.”
Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless seventh, Seth Lugo gave up Tucker Barnhart’s 10th homer leading off the eighth and Justin Wilson pitched the ninth for his fourth save after getting the loss on Saturday.
Bauer (11-13), in his 10th start since being acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, didn’t walk anybody, but he hit two batters in seven innings. He gave up six hits and five runs with eight strikeouts. He retired 14 of the next 15 batters after Conforto’s home run before Davis went deep with one out in the sixth.
“Trevor’s identified and he’s aware that when he gives up runs, they come in bunches,” Reds manager David Bell said. “After that first inning, there was a lot of soft contact.”
Davis’s homer makes him the fifth Mets player to reach 20 this season, a franchise record. They previously had four players with 20 homers in 1987, 2000 and 2016.
The Reds wore replica uniforms from the 1999 season, the last of 15 outfits from different eras they’ve worn to celebrate the 150th anniversary of baseball’s first all-profession team. The 1999 Reds won 96 games before losing to the Mets in a one-game playoff for the wild-card berth.
Mets: Ramos was hit on the upper left arm with a pitch in the first inning. After being checked out by a trainer, the catcher stayed in the game. Bauer also hit Canó in the left foot with a pitch in the third. Canó left the game after the top of the fourth. X-rays on his big toe were negative.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (10-9) starts at home Monday vs. Miami. He will try to bounce back from allowing seven runs on six hits in four innings in a 9-4 loss at Colorado last Monday.
Reds: RHP Sonny Gray (11-7) starts Tuesday at home vs. Milwaukee. His first strikeout will be his 200th of the season, extending his career high.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports