CINCINNATI (AP) _ R.A Dickey is still tied for the National
League lead in wins with Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds.
Cueto’s teammates kept it that way for their ace.

Scott Rolen and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back home runs, Mike
Leake pitched his second complete game of the season and the Reds
extended their win streak to five with a 6-1 win over the New York
Mets on Wednesday night.

Jay Bruce homered for the third consecutive game, helping the
first-place Reds improve to 21-8 since All-Star first baseman Joey
Votto was forced out of the lineup with a left knee injury.

“When you throw mediocre knuckleballs and they don’t miss them,
they can be hit a long way,” Dickey said.

Dickey tied his season high for hits and home runs allowed while
slipping to 2-3 over his last five starts. The Reds touched Dickey
(15-4) for 10 hits, including three homers, and two walks in six
innings. The knuckleballer had nine strikeouts.

“It was a bizarre outing,” said Dickey, who was asked to
remove friendship bracelets that his daughter made him. Crew chief
Jim Joyce following an MLB directive asked Dickey to cut the
bracelets off during the second inning.

Dickey didn’t like it but wouldn’t use it as an excuse.

“I was a little angry at first but they asked me to cut them
off and I did,” Dickey said.

His daughters made the bracelets for him for climbing Mount
Kilamenjaro in January.

“I’ve had them on for every start, every bullpen session, since
January. I didn’t think about it every inning. They are a hot team.
Sometimes you have to tip your hat to their pitcher.”

Leake (5-7) faced three batters over the minimum and added an
RBI single. He allowed four hits, no walks and struck out four.

“I was just a little, old four-winner,” Leake said with a
slight smile about being overshadowed. “It was a good all-around
game for us. You couldn’t ask for more.”

The win was his first in four starts since July 24.

“I’m just glad I’m talking to you guys,” he said. “It’s been
a while.”

Collins was unhappy with some of the at-bats his hitters were
taking. The Mets’ offense has disappeared with All-Star David
Wright in a slump, hitting just .200 over his last 11 games.

“I didn’t think our offense would have a hard time scoring. We
haven’t done much lately, maybe it’s time for some breaks for some
guys. It will be someone in my lineups for sure. You see some
swings in some counts you wonder about. We talk about Valdespin
being a little over aggressive but at least he’s trying to drive
the ball,” Collins said.

The Reds wasted no time gaining an early edge against Dickey,
who went into the game tied for the major league lead with 15 wins.
Zack Cozart led off Cincinnati’s first with a double down the left
field line. Drew Stubbs sacrificed Cozart to third, and he scored
on Brandon Phillips’ soft single to center.

The Reds extended their streak of consecutive scoreless innings
to 28, the team’s longest since a 32-inning streak in June 1963,
before the Mets pushed across the tying run in the fourth. Mike
Baxter led off with a single off the glove of second baseman
Brandon Phillips _ New York’s first baserunner _ and moved to third
on Ruben Tejada’s single before scoring on Daniel Murphy’s
double-play ball.

Rolen, who missed Cincinnati’s previous seven games with lower
back problems, broke the tie with his sixth homer of the season, a
357-foot drive into the left field seats on a 3-1 pitch. Two
pitches later, Frazier launched a 1-0 pitch 474 feet to center
field for his 15th homer of the season.

Frazier’s homer is the 10th longest in the 10-year history of
Great American Ball Park, according to the Reds.

Bruce led off the sixth with a 428-foot shot into the
right-field seats on a one-strike pitch, his 24th. His two-run
homer gave the Reds a 2-0 lead in their 3-0 win over the Cubs in
Chicago on Sunday, and he followed that with a three-run walkoff
homer in the Reds’ 3-0 win over the Mets on Tuesday. He has homered
in three consecutive games for the second time this season. He also
did it April 26-29.

Leake added a two-out RBI single in the sixth and Ryan Ludwick
extended his hit streak to seven games (10 for 29, .345).

Collins didn’t think the bracelet was the reason for Dickey’s
meltdown but vowed to make sure the rule was enforced.

“I think it bothered R.A. but he has to pitch through it and he
knows that,” Collins said. “We’ve seen guys pitch with stuff so
we’ll make sure that everybody else has stuff off too. As you guys
know these guys (pitchers) get into patterns. They wear the same
shirts, the same pants the same sox, the same shoes and other
things that go along with their routine.”

Notes: The Mets will go with a six-man starting rotation for at
least the next two weeks, manager Terry Collins said Wednesday. The
only exception is RHP Dickey will go every fifth day, Collins said.
The other five will be RHP Matt Harvey, LHP Johan Santana, LHP
Jonathon Niese, RHP Chris Young and RHP Jeremy Hefner. … The Mets
optioned C Rob Johnson to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the
active roster C Kelly Shoppach, who joined the team Wednesday after
being acquired from Boston in a trade the day before. … The last
out of Felix Hernandez’s perfect game for Seattle against Tampa Bay
was shown on the Great American Ball Park scoreboard, with called
strike three drawing scattered applause from the sparse pre-game

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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