Nimmo, Lindor homer as first-place Mets beat Reds 7-4

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CINCINNATI – Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor homered, helping the New York Mets beat the lowly Cincinnati Reds 7-4 on Monday night.

Taijuan Walker (7-2) struck out nine in six innings as NL East-leading New York earned its second straight win after a stretch of four losses in five games. The Mets improved to 50-30, and ace right-hander Max Scherzer returns Tuesday night after being sidelined by a strained left oblique muscle.

“With Max coming back right at the halfway point, that’s a good sign,” Nimmo said. “I’d say given what’s happened in the first half of the season, we’d be pretty happy if you told us at the beginning of the year we’d be at 50 wins at this point. We’ve had a good first half.”

Nick Senzel and Brandon Drury homered for last-place Cincinnati, which lost for the fifth time in six games.

The Mets got some good swings against hard-throwing rookie Hunter Greene.

Nimmo hit a towering three-run drive in the second. The Mets are 39-9 this season when scoring first.

“I was able to capitalize on a couple of sliders that he left in the middle of the plate,” Nimmo said. “Glad I was able to help with the win tonight.”

In the third, Drury drove an 0-1 pitch from Walker deep to right for a tying three-run shot. The opposite-field homer was Drury’s career-best 17th. He was with the Mets last season, but only had 84 at-bats.

It was a rare mistake for Walker, who is making a case for a spot on the NL All-Star team.

“It was hot, so definitely tired,” Walker said. “The offense picked me up after I gave up the three-run home run. I was able to settle in. My splitter wasn’t very good today, but I was able to get my slider going.”

Lindor put the Mets ahead with his 14th homer, a solo drive on a 99-mph pitch from Greene in the fifth. It was the major league-leading 22nd homer allowed by Greene (3-10) this season.

“We were trying to go outside on Lindor and it leaked back to the middle and he got it,” Greene said. “On the previous home run, I threw it right into his bat path. It was a poor slider.”

Dominic Smith‘s two-run double off Reiver Sanmartin in the sixth handed the Mets a three-run cushion.

“It’s one thing to have Dom back, it’s another thing to have him be productive,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.

Walker was charged with three runs and four hits. Seth Lugo pitched the ninth for his third save.

HOT

The game-time temperature was 91 degrees.

MOVING UP

It was win No. 1,601 for Showalter. He is one victory shy of Fred Clarke for 21st on the career list. Showalter ranks fourth among active managers.

TRAINERS ROOM

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (stress reaction in right scapula) is slated to make his second minor league rehab start on Friday. He is not expected to return to the Mets’ rotation until after the All-Star break. … LHP David Peterson is expected to come off the paternity list to start Wednesday’s series finale in Cincinnati.

Reds: RHP Art Warren was placed on the IL with a right flexor pronator strain. C Mark Kolozsvary was recalled. … C Tyler Stephenson began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville and caught five innings while going 1 for 2 at the plate. Stephenson broke his right thumb June 9 on a foul tip.

UP NEXT

Scherzer (5-1, 2.54 ERA) makes his first start for the Mets since leaving his outing on May 18 against St. Louis. Scherzer’s 1.84 ERA against the Reds is tied for the ninth-lowest mark among all pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched against an opponent. Reds rookie LHP Nick Lodolo (1-2, 5.52 ERA) starts for the first time since suffering a lower back strain in April.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.