NEW YORK (AP) – Nothing went right for the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth inning.
Fill-in closer J.J. Hoover couldn’t find the plate. First baseman Joey Votto made a risky choice on a bunt. Even a replay challenge went against them.
It all added up to another loss that has the Reds off to their worst start in more than a decade.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis hit a game-ending grand slam and the New York Mets were aided by a favorable ninth-inning video review in rallying to beat the Reds 6-3 Saturday.
“Things just didn’t work, nothing worked,” first-year manager Bryan Price said. “We just weren’t able to close it out.”
An inning earlier it appeared the Reds were on track to avoid dropping to 1-4, a record they last had in 2003 when they finished 69-93.
Brandon Phillips had given the Reds a 3-2 lead with a two-run homer off Dillon Gee in the eighth, two innings after Curtis Granderson connected for a two-run drive off Johnny Cueto, his first homer with the Mets.
But with Aroldis Chapman out until at least May after being hit above the eye with a line drive in spring training and Jonathan Broxton still recovering from August right forearm surgery, Hoover was called upon to finish it off.
He promptly walked Juan Lagares to start the ninth.
“That leadoff walk — didn’t give myself any chance really,” Hoover said.
Anthony Recker bunted and, instead of taking the easy out, Votto, the first baseman, threw to second base for the force play. Second base umpire James Hoye called Lagares out and Mets manager Terry Collins raced out of the dugout to ask for a challenge.
After a review of 2 minutes, 14 seconds, the call was overturned by crew chief John Hirschbeck.
“They got it right and as frustrating as it was we anticipated we were gonna get the switch,” Price said.
Hoover (1-1) then walked Ruben Tejada to load the bases.
Davis, having lost his starting first base job to Lucas Duda a day earlier, was called on to hit in the pitcher’s spot and lined a 0-1 pitch to right field, setting off a gleeful celebration at Citi Field.
“That was tremendous ending especially for Ike going thru what he’s going through,” Collins said. “To come in in a big situation and come thru, that’s great stuff.”
The Mets won their second straight after being swept by Washington in three games to open the season.
Carlos Torres (1-0) pitched the ninth for the Mets.
In a blustery wind with gusts up to 35 mph that sent papers swirling around Citi Field, Cueto and Gee were dominant early against two of the league’s worst hitting teams thus far.
Cueto didn’t allow a hit until Tejada doubled with one out in the fifth inning and Gee was perfect until Tucker Barnhart, subbing for injured catcher Devin Mesoraco (oblique strain), lined his first big league hit to right field with one out in the third inning.
Cueto was hurt by the long ball for his second straight start, but this time his offense backed his effort. On opening day, he gave up a homer to St. Louis’ Yadier Molina in the seventh inning of 1-0 loss.
Against New York, he gave up five hits and two runs, lifting any lingering worry about his health after he made only 11 starts last season. He struck out nine and walked three — one intentionally.
“I feel very good, thank God for that,” Cueto said through a translator. “I hope that I can continue pitching like that and finish very strong, on a very strong note.”
Gee allowed six hits, one to Cueto, and walked one. He struck out four. He was also sharp on opening day, making that start because Jonathon Niese had elbow inflammation during spring training and was on the disabled list. Niese is scheduled to make his first start Sunday in the series finale.
Gee received a visit on the mound after Roger Bernadina sacrificed Chris Heisey to third in the eighth inning.
Phillips, who was 0 for 3 before homering on a 1-0 count with one out in the eighth, has a hit in all 28 games he has played against the Mets in New York.
NOTES: Reds CF Billy Hamilton was scratched from the lineup because of a jammed left middle finger. He was injured sliding head-first into second base Friday night when he was caught stealing. … Up next: Reds RHP Alfredo Simon is scheduled to make his first start of the season Sunday against Niese.