• Reds 8, Mets 4: Double, bunt single, walk, grand slam. That's how this game started for John Maine, and the Mets never recovered. The Reds needed four batters to score four runs. The Mets took all nine innings. With the Braves' win over the Pirates, the Mets' National League East lead has dwindled to 1 1/2 games. That said, there's no shame to losing to the Reds with Aaron Harang on the mound. Dumping one to Matt Belisle would be a step in the wrong direction.

    Friday's game also marked the official debuts of Howard Johnson as the hitting coach and Rickey Henderson as first-base coach, Johnson's old job. Hitters have a way of making hitting coaches look good or bad, and some Mets -- looking at you, Carlos Delgado -- could have performed better in the first half. Whether HoJo can change that remains to be seen. Henderson has the potential to provide entertainment in the coaching box, so keep an eye out for that.

  • Devil Rays 6, Yankees 4: Roger Clemens followed up two impressive starts with this stinker, and the Yankees dropped the second game of a four-game set in St. Pete. Searching for a bright spot? Look to Luis Vizcaino, now the steadiest Yankees reliever after Mariano Rivera. Like the Mets, the Yankees faced a bad team's ace. They could have done more with the four walks Scott Kazmir handed out. The two teams play again Saturday night.
  • Auburn 11, Staten Island 3: The Baby Bombers could have used Jeff Kartens making a rehab start in this one. Their pitching allowed 11 hits and eight over the last three innings.

  • Brooklyn 16, Tri-City 7: A six-run, 10-batter inning helped out the Cyclones. Anyone who doesn't realize the value of walks should take note of that inning. Four Cyclones walked, and all four scored.

  • In New Jersey news, Vince Carter re-signed with the Nets and the Devils signed Brent Sutter as coach. For the Nets, this long-rumored deal reflects a belief that the trio of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Carter hasn't run its course, an idea the recent plateau of the franchise seems to belie. Carter will probably end up costing the Nets too much money in the long run. His contributions will fill up the statbook, but in a team sport like basketball, that might not lead to wins. As for Sutter, he and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello better get along. The boss has a reputation for midseason firings.