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Kodai Senga, Mets play spoiler in 11-1 rout of Diamondbacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Kodai Senga struck out 10 over six scoreless innings, Jeff McNeil and Jonathan Araúz homered, and the New York Mets continued playing the spoiler with an 11-1 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Jake McCarthy had an eighth-inning RBI double for the Diamondbacks, who dropped the final three games of a four-game series against the Mets to fall into a tie for the third NL wild-card spot with the Cincinnati Reds (76-72) and San Francisco Giants. The Reds, who visit New York for a weekend series, have the tiebreaker over Arizona by virtue of winning the season series 4-3.

The Reds fell to the Detroit Tigers 8-2 on Thursday. The Giants (75-71) had their game against the Colorado Rockies postponed because of weather.

“It’s like a game of poker or a game of blackjack — you get up and then you kind of give it back,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “That’s the beauty of baseball, the beauty of the season, the things that we’ve been doing lately. But we’ve just got to keep fighting.”

With a three-game series beginning Friday against the Chicago Cubs — whom Arizona took three of four from last weekend — Lovullo began emptying the bench in the sixth inning. Backup catcher Seby Zavala got the final two outs of the eighth after Araúz hit a three-run pinch-hit homer.

Arizona is 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs, the second wild card.

“There’s very little wiggle room and I want us to be ready to go tomorrow, which I think we will,” Lovullo said.

The Diamondbacks overcame an eighth-inning deficit to earn a 4-3 win Monday before the Mets won the next three by a combined 25-6. Arizona’s top two starters, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, gave up 14 runs (13 earned) over 10 innings in the final two games of the series.

Kelly (11-7) allowed seven runs and struck out seven in five innings on Thursday. He opened the third by walking three consecutive batters before Brandon Nimmo hit a two-RBI double.

“At the end of the day, these guys are big league hitters — it doesn’t matter what team they’re on, doesn’t matter what their record is,” Kelly said. “You put yourself in trouble like I did today against major league hitters and don’t execute those pitches afterward, it’s not going to end well.”

Alonso hit an RBI double and DJ Stewart hit a two-run single before McNeil capped the five-run fifth with a two-run shot to right.

“There’s a lot on the line for them,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said, referring to the Diamondbacks. “Just getting some early runs, which is something we haven’t been doing, and adding on.”

Francisco Alvarez had an RBI double in the seventh for the Mets (68-78), who began the season with a record $355 million payroll before selling off at the trade deadline.

Senga (11-7) gave up two hits and walked two. He retired 13 straight following Tommy Pham’s two-out single in the first and wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by getting Christian Walker to fly out to center.

He has a 2.95 ERA. Only four rookies in Mets history — Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and Dwight Gooden — have qualified for the ERA title and posted a sub-3.00 ERA.

A LEAGUE OF HER OWN

Maybelle Blair, who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League — the basis for the movie “A League of Their Own” — received the first Amazin’ Mets Foundation Legacy Award in a pregame ceremony. Alex Cohen, the wife of Mets owner Steve Cohen, presented Blair the award before Blair, 96, threw out a first pitch to Elizabeth Benn, New York’s director of major league operations.

“In my day, we had no opportunity whatsoever to be able to be around baseball, a game that you love so much,” Blair said in a pregame news conference. “And they have opened the door up to us women. We are now executives. We are now owners. We are a little bit of everything in baseball.”

The Mets also showed Blair their women’s locker room, which had a locker with her name above it.

“I absolutely about cried,” Blair said. “You have no idea how I feel. First time in my life I ever felt that. Wonderful to be able to say I had a locker in a major league (clubhouse).”

NO VARIETY

Senga’s first 16 outs came via a strikeout or a fly out to center fielder Brandon Nimmo before Corbin Carroll grounded to second baseman Jeff McNeil.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks: C Gabriel Moreno, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child on Monday, returned from the paternity list and exchanged hugs and handshakes with teammates in the clubhouse. ... C Jose Herrera was optioned to Triple-A Reno in a corresponding move.

Mets: 3B Brett Baty is day-to-day with a left groin strain suffered in Wednesday’s game. … IF Ronny Mauricio (illness), who didn’t play Wednesday, felt better Thursday but didn’t play.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks: RHP Brandon Pfaadt (1-8, 6.25 ERA) will start Friday’s opener of the pivotal series against the Cubs, who are slated to send

Mets: LHP David Peterson (3-8, 5.34 ERA) starts the first game of a three-game series against the visiting Cincinnati Reds. RHP Hunter Greene (4-6, 4.43 ERA) will start for the Reds.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb