Lo Duca powers streaking Mets past Reds

Mets 11, Reds 7

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Paul Lo Duca's timing was perfect.

Lo Duca hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high seven runs Tuesday night, powering the New York Mets to their fifth straight victory, 11-7 over the Cincinnati Reds.

The NL East leaders have regained control of their division with their longest winning streak of the season. A balanced offense has led the way, piling up 46 runs in the last six games and reaching double-digits three times.

"It's amazing," said Lo Duca, whose last multihomer game was six years ago. "Unbelievable. I'm really proud of this team, especially with what happened in Philadelphia. To play the way we have these last five days is huge."

The Mets got swept four games in Philadelphia last week, cutting their lead over the Phillies to two precious games. Now, the lead is back to five and the Mets are back to looking like a World Series contender.

"They're the best team in the league, from what I've seen," Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "They've got depth in their pitching. They've got speed and power. They're in good shape. They've got a lot of the things necessary to win a lot of games."

The offense is leading them. No matter who the Reds put on the mound, the Mets hit him.

Lo Duca got it started with his three-run homer in the second inning off Matt Belisle, a drive that was caught by a fan wearing a white Mets jersey in the front row behind the left-field wall.

After falling behind 5-3, the Mets sent nine batters to the plate for five runs in the sixth inning, a rally started by Carlos Beltran's two-run homer. Shawn Green added a two-run double off reliever Bill Bray (3-2) during the comeback, and Lo Duca finished it with an RBI single.

"That's the way we're winning games right now," Green said. "We're getting contributions from the whole team. It's not just one or two guys carrying us. To go deep into October, it's going to take the while team."

Lo Duca, who hadn't homered since June 30, hit another three-run shot in the eighth off Todd Coffey to complete his career night. His previous best was six RBIs on June 26, 2001, at San Francisco.

"This is the healthiest I've been in a while," said Lo Duca, who was on the disabled list from Aug. 12-27 because of a pulled right hamstring. "It took a while when I came off the DL to get my timing back get into a rhythm. I hope it keeps going."

Carlos Delgado, Green and Lo Duca each had three hits, helping left-hander Oliver Perez (13-9) get the victory on an off-night. Perez lasted only five innings, walked five and gave up five runs. The left-hander escaped a bases-loaded threat to end the fifth with the Reds leading 5-3, then hopped over the third base line for good luck as he left the field.

New York's offense doesn't need any luck.

Beltran's 27th homer extended his tear since he came off the disabled list on Aug. 10, having recovered from strained muscles in his left side. Beltran has eight homers and 17 RBIs since his return.

Moises Alou also had a pair of singles, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.

New York is 5-1 against the Reds this season and one victory away from pulling off another three-game sweep. The Mets have cozied up to one of the majors' most hitter-friendly ballparks, piling up 21 runs and six homers in the first two games.

On Tuesday, they sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth and eighth innings. Delgado struck out -- the first strikeout by a Reds pitcher all evening -- to leave the bases loaded in the eighth.

Game notes
RHP Pedro Martinez will make his second start Friday in New York against the Astros. "In front of the home fans, it'll be a little emotional," he said. "I'm crazy with the fans and they're crazy with me." Martinez returned from shoulder surgery and got the victory in the series opener. ... The Mets called up 41-year-old C Sandy Alomar Jr. from the minors, adding to their depth. ... It was the third two-homer game of Lo Duca's career and his first since Oct. 2, 2001. ... Ken Griffey Jr.'s sacrifice fly was the 1,696th RBI of his career, moving him ahead of Cal Ripken for 17th. Reggie Jackson is next at 1,702. ... Brandon Phillips hit his 27th homer in the ninth inning, tying Joe Morgan's club record for homers by a second baseman.