Cone's 13 strikeouts help send Mets to 4-2 victory over Reds National League


CINCINNATI -- David Cone allowed four hits and struck out a season-high 13 in eight innings to lead the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds last night.

Cone (6-3) allowed only a pair of unearned runs after overcoming a shaky first inning. The right-hander has given up just three earned runs in his last three starts.

Cone's 13 strikeouts matched his career high and pushed him head of teammate Dwight Gooden for the National League lead with 74. He also fanned 13 last Aug. 18 against San Francisco. John Franco pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save.

Cone, who walked five, also had a sacrifice fly and Vince Coleman and Gregg Jefferies had RBI singles as the Mets capitalized on 10 walks by four Cincinnati pitchers. Starter Chris Hammond (3-4) lost his fourth straight, lasting just 1 2/3 innings.

Both Cone and Hammond were wild early. Cone survived his control troubles; Hammond didn't.

Cone alternated three walks and three strikeouts to escape without allowing a run in the first inning. Hammond then walked four in the second to set up a pair of runs.

Howard Johnson and Hubie Brooks drew walks to open the inning, Kevin Elster had an infield single to load the bases, and Charlie O'Brien drew another walk to force home Johnson. After Cone hit into a double play, Coleman chopped an infield single to score Elster.

Hammond's successor, Kip Gross, also hurt himself with poor control. He walked Elster to open the fourth, gave up a single to O'Brien, then threw wildly to first on a pickoff to advance the runners. Cone's sacrifice fly produced the Mets' third run.

New York gave back two runs with shoddy fielding.

First baseman Dave Magadan fumbled Barry Larkin's two-out grounder in the third, letting the shortstop reach on his second error of the season. Larkin scored on Eric Davis' RBI single.

An error cost another unearned run in the fifth. Left fielder Kevin McReynolds dropped a fly ball to the warning track by Hal Morris for a two-base error, and Paul O'Neill's single cut the lead to 3-2.

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