Pedro a winner in return to the mound
Righty records 3,000th strikeout; offense pounds out 16 hits
CINCINNATI -- The day might have belonged to Pedro Martinez, but Moises Alou was a living, breathing reminder that a pitcher needs runs to win -- and he couldn't have been happier about it.
The 41-year-old left fielder, who was Martinez's Montreal teammate and considers the right-hander to be almost family, hit a tape-measure home run, two doubles and scored three runs to help make Martinez a winner in his first start since last Sept. 27 as the Mets extended their winning streak to four games with a 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Monday.
"I didn't sleep well last night," said Alou, who signed with New York as a free agent last November. "I guess I was just too excited. I knew what he went through. One of the reasons I came over here was to be with him. He's one of the guys I hang with in the offseason [in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic]. That team in Montreal was like family, especially with him coming from the same town."
"He told me he couldn't sleep," Martinez (1-0) said. "I asked him, 'Why?' and he said, 'I guess because I'm so emotional about this game.' Everybody seemed to be pumped up."
David Wright added a two-run homer and two singles, and Luis Castillo also had two doubles among three hits to help New York open up a five-game lead over second-place Philadelphia, which lost at Atlanta, and to help Martinez celebrate his 3,000th career strikeout. The right-hander went into the game -- his first since undergoing rotator cuff surgery last Oct. 5 -- needing two strikeouts to become the 15th pitcher to reach 3,000. He officially qualified by getting Scott Hatteberg and pitcher Aaron Harang in the second inning.
Strikeout No. 3,000 was nice, but getting a healthy Martinez back for the stretch drive was even nicer, manager Willie Randolph said.
"This could be a springboard into the rest of the season where he can really help us out," said Randolph, who now can match up Martinez and 300-game winner Tom Glavine for back-to-back starts. Martinez is scheduled to make his next start against Houston at Shea Stadium on Sunday, one day after Glavine meets the Astros.
Alou misplayed Alex Gonzalez's line drive into a double that helped the Reds strike for two quick runs against Martinez in the bottom of the first. The veteran, who went into the game hitting .467 (7-for-15) with four home runs and seven RBIs in his career against Harang, made up for the misplay by launching Harang's first pitch of the second inning 467 feet to the upper-deck bleachers in left field. The homer was the 11th longest recorded at Great American Ball Park and extended Alou's hitting streak to 10 games, one shy of his season-high 11-game streak he put together in August.
"I made a bad play in left field," said Alou, who's hitting .389 (14-for-36) during his hitting streak. "It was nice that I was able to get it back right away."
Wright gave New York a 3-2 lead in the third by following a walk to Castillo with his 26th homer of the season, an opposite-field shot into the Mets bullpen down the right-field line, also on the first pitch he saw from Harang.
Alou's double to lead off the fourth inning led to New York's fourth run. He moved to third on Shawn Green's groundout to first and scored on Paul Lo Duca's sacrifice fly to the wall in left field.
"I never had any doubt that this team could come back from two runs down," said Alou, Martinez's 1994-1996 teammate with the Expos, who since have moved to Washington, D.C.
The Reds got help from Carlos Beltran to cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth. Adam Dunn was on first when Hatteberg singled to center field. The ball glanced off Beltran's glove for an error and rolled far enough toward right field to allow Dunn to score all the way from first base.
New York responded with two runs in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Alou and Green and Ruben Gotay's pinch-hit single before pushing across two more runs in the seventh and one each in the eighth and ninth.
The Mets fell two hits shy of matching their single-game season high. They now have eight four-game winning streaks this season.
Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.