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Morning Briefing: Mets catch Cardinals, knock on Giants' door

CINCINNATI -- Only three weeks ago, after losing the opening two games of a series at San Francisco, the New York Mets owned a 60-62 record and trailed the St. Louis Cardinals by 5 1/2 games for the National League's second wild card.

Now?

The Mets (74-66) awaken this morning in a virtual tie with St. Louis (73-65) -- though they still trail if you care to be a party pooper and go an extra decimal place or two -- .52857 to .52899.

And both teams are only a half-game behind the Giants (74-65) for the first wild card, after San Francisco blew a two-run lead in the ninth on Wednesday at Colorado.

Winners of 14 of their last 18 games, the Mets take a day off on Thursday before opening a weekend series at Atlanta. It's the Mets' last visit ever to Turner Field, a one-time house of horrors. The Braves are moving to new digs in Cobb County next season. Even with recent success, the Mets are 65-105 all time in the regular season at Turner Field, plus another three losses in the 1999 postseason.

The Mets have only one series remaining against a team with a winning record -- beginning Monday at Washington.

THURSDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Jose Reyes, Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores all homered as the Mets completed a sweep of the Reds with a 6-3 win on Wednesday. Noah Syndergaard tossed five scoreless, albeit inefficient, innings. He allowed six hits and four walks and tossed 95 pitches, and suggested both the heat and 12:40 p.m. ET start time may have been factors. The Mets did catch three baserunners attempting to steal with Syndergaard on the mound, although the Reds' sloppiness contributed. The Mets have now won 14 straight games against Cincinnati. That's one win shy of matching the Mets' record for a winning streak against one opponent -- 15 straight against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 and '87. Reyes produced his 19th leadoff homer as a Met, breaking a tie with Granderson for the franchise record. Granderson now has 25 homers but only 45 RBIs this season. No MLB player going all the way back to 1901 has finished a season with fewer RBIs while producing at least 25 long balls. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Don't discount the Mets signing Tim Tebow. People in the know believe Sandy Alderson is seriously intrigued by Tebow, at least as a spectacle. A high-level Mets official on Wednesday refused to acknowledge if there's a decent chance Tebow could end up with the Mets, which seems to indicate there is.

  • St. Lucie was eliminated from the Florida State League playoffs with a 4-1 loss to Bradenton on Wednesday. St. Lucie had runners on the corners in the ninth when Champ Stuart had a game-ending strikeout. St. Lucie was the Mets' only affiliate that had qualified for the postseason. Read the full recap here.

  • The Mets have received more from Reyes than they reasonably could have expected, columnist Ken Davidoff writes in the Post.

  • Reyes believes the Mets should retire No. 21 for Roberto Clemente, Maria Guardado writes at NJ.com.

  • Tyler Kepner in the Times notes the Mets and Yankees are hot.

  • Matt Ehalt in the Record writes that the early returns on reliever Fernando Salas have been good.

  • Read more on Syndergaard's outing in the Post.

  • Who finished a season with the fewest RBIs ever while producing at least 25 homers? Ron Gant in 2000 and Joc Pederson last season with 54 apiece. This season, Jedd Gyorko has 26 homers and 51 RBIs with the Cardinals. Read more about Granderson's low RBI total (45) for his homer count (25) in the Post and Newsday.

  • From the bloggers … Faith and Fear remains enchanted by Yoenis Cespedes. … Mets Report applauds the Mets not playing down to their competition in Cincinnati.

BIRTHDAYS: Bobby Parnell turns 32. ... Don Aase is 62. ... Adam Atkins is 23.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU'RE UP: Who should start the wild-card game for the Mets if they have an opportunity to line things up?