Kathy Willens
April 25, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) Normally a bit of a slow starter, Neil Walker hoped to quickly make a nice impression with his new team.

The best home run month of his career, that's really helped.

Walker hit his seventh homer in 10 games, a tiebreaking two-run shot in the seventh inning that kept the New York Mets rolling against the Cincinnati Reds with a 5-3 win Monday night.

''Never anything like this, home run wise,'' he said.

Walker reached double figures in homers in each of the previous six seasons with Pittsburgh. The Mets got him last December in a trade that sent pitcher Jon Niese to the Pirates, hoping he could fill some of the void left when second baseman Daniel Murphy became a free agent and eventually signed with Washington.

''Obviously, Murph's a great player. He moved on,'' Walker said.

The Mets' new second baseman has done more than his share.

''He's hunting certain pitches,'' manager Terry Collins said.

Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda also homered for the suddenly homer-happy Mets, who won their fourth in a row overall. They returned to Citi Field after connecting 23 times on a three-city road trip.

A year after going 7-0 vs. Cincinnati, the Mets won on a night when ace Noah Syndergaard and the bullpen couldn't hold an early lead. New York has taken nine straight from the Reds dating to 2014.

''We got bit by the home run bug,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said.

''Had a really nice rally to get back into the game, and we were able to push a few runs across on Syndergaard and get into the back end of their bullpen,'' he said. ''Sometimes three runs has to be enough.''

One downside for the Mets, though: Catcher Travis d'Arnaud exited with discomfort in his shoulder, hurt while trying to throw out a basestealer.

D'Arnaud said he'd never experienced this feeling and would see a doctor.

''I'm always worried about that,'' Collins said.

Syndergaard came out throwing 99 mph fastballs. The Reds' plan to slow him also involved speed - they stole five bases with the big righty on the mound.

Starting for the first time since Wednesday because of a bruised thumb, Billy Hamilton swiped two on consecutive pitches to set up the Reds' first run.

Syndergaard gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, striking out nine.

''I just didn't have the best command,'' he said.

Walker connected for his eighth home run - already half of his total last year - off J.C. Ramirez (0-1). The Reds have been tagged for a majors-high 37 homers this season.

Conforto also doubled and singled, and he opened the seventh with a walk to set up Walker.

Logan Verrett (2-0) relieved after Joey Votto's RBI single in a two-run seventh tied it. Jeurys Familia closed for his sixth save in as many opportunities.

Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips exited after being hit in the left ring finger by a pitch from Syndergaard. X-rays were negative.

Moments earlier, Phillips fouled a ball hard off his shin. He said he hoped to play Tuesday.

''Probably the most painful at-bat I ever had in my career,'' he said.

Earlier, Phillips beat out an infield single, giving him a hit in all 33 road games he's played against the Mets. It's the longest road hitting streak by a player against the same opponent since Joe ''Ducky'' Medwick got hits in 46 straight games at Brooklyn from 1933-37, the Reds said in citing the Elias Sports Bureau.

Reds starter Raisel Iglesias pitched five innings, and his line included eight hits, seven strikeouts and a couple of emotional displays. He slammed his glove on the bench after Conforto's homer, and shouted ''no'' and fired down the rosin bag following a late walk.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (elbow) is scheduled for a rehab start Tuesday for Double-A Pensacola.

Mets: OF Yoenis Cespedes was out for the third straight game because of a bad bruise on his right thigh. He saw a doctor earlier in the day and had fluid drained. Collins said the team would monitor how the slugger feels as the week goes on.

STEE-RIKE!

Syndergaard has fanned 38 in his first four starts of the season, matching the team record set by Pedro Martinez. ... In three career starts vs. the Reds, Syndergaard has struck out 25 and walked none.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (2-2, 3.74) faces the Mets for the first time in his career. He has made four starts this season and given up no more than four hits in three of them.

Mets: RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.89) has 219 career wins, tied with Pedro Martinez for the second most among players born in the Dominican Republic. Juan Marichal leads the list with 243.

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