NEW YORK (AP) -- Oliver Perez plays baseball like a kid in a school yard -- hitting, pitching, stealing bases, experimenting with different arm angles.
All were on display in the New York Mets' 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday in which the left-hander earned his first win since April 19."He might drive you nuts every once in a while," New York manager Willie Randolph said, "but he competes, man."The day's oddest moment came not from Perez but the Reds, who batted out of order in the ninth inning after an earlier double switch. Sorting it all out resulted in a 10-minute delay.Outfielder Corey Patterson was charged with an out when backup catcher David Ross came to the plate instead of him in the No. 8 spot and lined out. Ross had to hit again, and this time he singled.The Mets, who hadn't hit back-to-back home runs all season before Saturday, did it for the second straight day. Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church went deep in the fifth inning as their offense continues to show hints of finding the consistency that's been lacking much of this year.The Mets have at least 11 hits in four of their last five games. The one exception was a 7-1 loss in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, in which they managed just four. They had that many in a three-run first inning Sunday.Jose Reyes led off with a single, stole second and scored on Luis Castillo's triple.Castillo ripped a line drive to right-center between Ken Griffey Jr. and Ryan Freel. Griffey pulled up at the last second, while Freel dived unsuccessfully for the ball, which rolled all the way to the wall."We had a little communication problem," Freel said, "but it was also tough to read the wind out there."Castillo felt discomfort in his left quadriceps on the triple and later left the game.Doubles by Beltran and Moises Alou off rookie Johnny Cueto (2-4) drove in two more runs.Beltran has nine hits in his last 22 at-bats, including his two-run homer in the fifth. Church followed with his drive to put the Mets up 6-0. Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider went back-to-back in the first game of the doubleheader.Beltran's homer was his first since April 24 and just his third of the season after hitting 33 last year."I don't want to say that I'm perfect, but it's getting close," said Beltran, who explained that his left leg has been weaker than his right, which has affected his hitting.Reds shortstop Jeff Keppinger had a hit in seven straight at-bats before striking out in the eighth. He went 5-for-5 in Saturday's nightcap before adding a single and triple Sunday.Randolph doesn't want Perez (3-3) to improvise with different arm angles, believing it messes with his rhythm. After allowing just one hit through five innings, Perez ran into trouble in the sixth. A walk, double, triple, wild pitch and three deep flyball outs resulted in the Reds pulling within 6-3 -- and meant Perez still hasn't pitched into the seventh this season.Perez dropped down on that wild pitch."I was trying to change speeds," he said. "I was tired."Sounding exasperated and amused at the same time, Randolph said, "That's Ollie."That's Ollie also applied to Perez catching the Reds napping after he walked in the second inning -- he stole second without a throw for his third career steal (all against Cincinnati). He added a bunt single in the fourth when he noticed third baseman Edwin Encarnacion playing back.The Mets got two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Reyes' hard grounder down the third-base line went under Encarnacion's glove for a two-out double to start the rally. Damion Easley, who had replaced Castillo at second, drove him in. The Mets added another run on a David Wright single with the help of a wild pitch that moved Easley to second.Griffey remained stalled at 597 home runs in his bid to become the sixth player with 600. He went 0-for-2 with two walks and hasn't homered since April 23.
The Mets announced that Jets Night at Shea has been rescheduled for July 8 before their game against the San Francisco Giants. Former Jets players including Pro Bowlers Joe Klecko and Wesley Walker will be honored during a pregame ceremony. The original event was rained out April 28. The Jets played at Shea from 1964-83. ... Reds left-handed hitters Joey Votto, Paul Bako and Adam Dunn each struck out twice against Perez. ... Mets reserve outfielder Angel Pagan, who bruised the labrum in his left shoulder Wednesday, returned as a pinch hitter. ... The Mets have yet to pick a starter for Wednesday's game against Washington. They will probably call up a minor leaguer, Randolph said. ... This was the Reds' last scheduled appearance at Shea before the Mets move to a new park next year. Their record there is 126-131.