"I thought we saw the good Ollie for two innings. We'd just like to see it for five or six," Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said.
Meanwhile Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who has been bothered lately by carpal tunnel issues in his right arm and nearly had his outing pushed back, had a rocky beginning while Perez was thriving.
The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third after four straight batters reached on Arroyo with two outs, including Ryan Church with a two-run double.
Lefty hitters had a .158 batting average against Perez last season, but he couldn't stop the best one the Reds had to offer in Joey Votto. The first baseman took over as the wheels came off the pitcher's performance in the third.
After Willy Taveras drew a two-out walk, Darnell McDonald hit an RBI single to center field. Next was Votto, who hit an 0-1 hanging slider into the right-center-field seats for a three-run homer and 4-3 Reds lead.
"You like to answer right back. It doesn't always happen," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They scored three and we came right back with four. That's a big emotional turn right there, to stop them from adding on to the lead."
It was 4-4 in the fifth for Perez (0-1) when the speedy Taveras dropped a bunt single to the left of home plate. McDonald drew a walk to set up more damage from Votto from the third spot in the order.
"From there, Perez got a little wild because he was slidestepping and concerned about Willy," Baker said. "A lot of times, you put some thoughts in the opposition and they try to do things they don't normally do."
Votto lined an RBI single to right-center field that scored Taveras for his fourth RBI. After Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly, Paul Janish's seeing-eye single off Mets reliever Darren O'Day provided insurance and a four-run Reds lead.
Cincinnati scored 15 runs in the last two games. Votto was 7-for-13 (.538) with two home runs and seven RBIs in the series.
The eight runs allowed tied the career high Perez has set seven times, with the last time coming on May 7, 2007, against the Giants. There was concern that Perez might have a slow start because he didn't get that many innings during Spring Training while pitching in the World Baseball Classic for Mexico.
"Because of the strikeouts, there was enough there to say he should be OK," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.
Church, who was 2-for-3 in the game and 5-for-11 in the series, added a second double leading off the sixth and scored on Alex Cora's sacrifice fly. Arroyo (1-0) finished with five earned runs and eight hits allowed over six innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
"It's a great game for me, a great win, knowing I wasn't going to be 100 percent," Arroyo said. "I was battling to give this team a chance to win and they pulled through. Joey Votto is as hot as anybody in the game right now. I'll take an eight spot every time out. If that happens, we probably won't lose too many games."
In the seventh with Jared Burton pitching, the Reds' lead narrowed to two when Daniel Murphy came home on David Wright's sacrifice fly. Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers held it down with 1 2/3 scoreless relief innings. Closer Francisco Cordero slammed the door by striking out the side in the ninth for his first save.