CINCINNATI -- A late rally left the New York Mets oh-so-close to their first playoff appearance in nine years.
Daniel Murphy had three hits, including a tiebreaking triple in the seventh inning, and the Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 on Thursday night. The victory, combined with Washington's loss to Baltimore, reduced the Mets' magic number to three for clinching the NL East title.
"It's fun," said Murphy, who leads the team with 69 RBI. "That's the easiest way to describe it. You don't need a lot of adjectives."
Or a lot of math, either.
New York can wrap up its sixth division crown during a four-game series at Great American Ball Park, where the Mets usually have a good time. Their 24-15 record there represents the best winning percentage by any NL club, including the Reds.
"Three games with -- I don't even know how many left -- is a pretty good spot to be in," rookie left-hander Steven Matz said.
Matz tried to extend his record-setting start with the Mets, but couldn't hold a 3-1 lead. He'd allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first five starts -- a club record -- but gave up a pair of RBI singles by Brandon Phillips and left with the game tied 3-all in the sixth.
Murphy's two-out triple off left-hander Manny Parra (1-2) started a three-run rally in the seventh. Yoenis Cespedes singled for another run, and Lucas Duda followed with his second RBI double of the game.
Murphy has hit safely in his last seven games, going 12 for 26 with three doubles, two triples and a homer.
"He's locked in," manager Terry Collins said. "When that guy gets hot, nobody can get him out. And it's coming at the best time for us, too."
Erik Goeddel (1-1) retired the only batter he faced in the sixth. Jay Bruce hit a solo homer off Hansel Robles in the eighth, cutting it to 6-4. Jeurys Familia pitched the ninth for his 42nd save in 47 chances, one shy of Armando Benitez's club record from 2001.
The Mets hoped to regroup on the road after going 3-6 on their first losing homestand of the season. They're 27-11 on the road since July 1 and have won eight straight away from Citi Field, one shy of the team record.
Matz made his debut against the Reds on June 28 at Citi Field and went 3 for 3 in a 7-2 victory with four RBI, a team record for an inaugural game. He didn't get another hit until Thursday, when he singled in his first at-bat to start a three-run rally against Josh Smith.
The Mets won nine in a row on the road in 2006. They also won eight straight in 2007, 2001, 1993 and 1988. They've scored at least three runs in each of last 28 road games since July 21, a club record.
ROOKIES REACH TRIPLE DIGITS
It was the 100th game started by a Reds rookie this season, a franchise record. Reds rookies have started a major league-record 54 consecutive games since the club traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in July.
Mets: INF Juan Uribe was clear to do everything after recovering from a bruised chest sustained on Sunday. He didn't get into the game.
Reds: CF Billy Hamilton's scheduled surgery on his right shoulder was pushed back to Tuesday so he could attend a family wedding.
Mets: Rookie RHP Noah Syndergaard (8-7) makes his second start against the Reds. He beat them 2-1 on June 26 at Citi Field, allowing one run and five hits in eight innings.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (9-11) makes his 30th start, becoming the first Reds rookie since Johnny Cueto in 2008 to start so many games. He lost his only other start against the Mets, lasting 3 2/3 innings last year with Miami.
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