Mets’ hitting woes continue in lopsided loss to Reds

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Javier Baez alone probably isn’t enough to rescue this struggling Mets lineup.

Such a resurrection will take a Michael Conforto wake-up call, along with help from others. Maybe voodoo would help, too.

On Sunday, the Mets managed only three hits in completing an underwhelming homestand with a 7-1 loss to the Reds at Citi Field. The Mets averaged just 2.73 runs during 11 games on the homestand, going 5-6.

Jeff McNeil’s sixth-inning homer accounted for the Mets’ only run on a day they were dominated by right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez and the Reds’ bullpen. A night after blasting a two-run homer in his Mets debut, Baez finished 0-for-4. Conforto continued to hear boos in an 0-for-2 performance that dropped his batting average to .196.

The Mets fell to 8-9 in the second half — a stretch in which they have maintained the 3 ½-game lead in the NL East they took to the All-Star break. They will begin a seven-game road trip through Miami and Philadelphia on Monday.

The Mets didn’t get their first hit until the fifth, when Kevin Pillar singled through the third-base hole. To that point the Mets’ only other base runner was Brandon Drury, who drew a two-out walk in the second inning.

In his previous start against the Reds on July 21, Marcus Stroman allowed only one hit over eight shutout innings, but the right-hander wasn’t nearly as sharp this time around, encountering trouble in the middle innings.

Stroman lasted 5 ²/₃ innings and allowed four earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk, raising his ERA to season-high 2.80. The start was Stroman’s seventh in his last eight in which he pitched fewer than six innings.

Baez’s arm was on display in the fourth, when he fired a relay-throw dart to the plate that nailed Eugenio Suarez attempting to score from first base.

Max Schrock’s two-out homer earlier in the inning gave the Reds their first run. The blast was the first allowed by Stroman in his last four starts. Overall, he’s surrendered 11 homers in 22 starts.

Kyle Farmer’s RBI triple in the sixth gave the Reds their second run and Tyler Stephenson’s ensuing sacrifice fly put the Mets in a 3-0 hole. The rally started with Jesse Winker’s double leading off the inning.

Miguel Castro replaced Stroman with two outs in the sixth and walked the first two batters he faced — including the pitcher Guttierez on four pitches — to give the Reds a 4-0 lead.

The Reds broke open the game with three runs in the ninth against Geoff Hartlieb.

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