CINCINNATI -- Already improbable, the notion of a Mets collapse has become near-impossible. New York all but sewed up the National League East with a 6-4 win over the Reds on Thursday at Great American Ball Park; combined with the Nationals' loss earlier in the day, it grew the Mets' division lead to 7 1/2 games with nine to play while dropping their magic number to 3.
"It's fun," said Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who knocked home the go-ahead run in the seventh. "That's the easiest way to describe it. You don't need a lot of adjectives: It's fun. This is a great group of guys and we're having a whole lot of fun right now."
Put another way: even if the Mets lose all of their remaining games, the Nats would need to win eight of 10 just to force a one-game playoff.
Said Mets starter Steven Matz: "It's a pretty good place to be."
Thanks to a three-run, four-hit barrage in the seventh, the Mets -- who also posted a three-run third -- stayed within 1 1/2 games of the Dodgers for home-field advantage in the NL Division Series. Coming into the night with a 2-6 record in their previous eight games, they overcame a David Wright miscue at third base, which stuck Matz with a no-decision, when Murphy plated the go-ahead run with a two-out RBI triple off Manny Parra.
Like Matz, Reds starter Josh Smith received a no-decision, allowing three runs in five innings. His effort was not enough to prevent Cincinnati from dropping its fifth straight game for the third time this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Left-on-left crime: Left-handed hitters Curtis Granderson, Murphy and Lucas Duda all scored hits in the seventh off the left-handed Parra, who retired just two of the six batters he faced. Murphy, who recently passed Ed Kranepool for second place on the Mets' all-time doubles list, didn't stop at second this time on his go-ahead RBI triple to score Granderson. A batter later, Yoenis Cespedes sent him home with a single up the middle to give the Mets a two-run lead, before Duda doubled home Cespedes to further widen the margin.
"I think that one hit, that two-out hit has been eluding us just a bit," Murphy said.
Bruce goes boom, again: In the eighth inning, Jay Bruce hit a Hansel Robles 3-2 pitch for a home run to right field. It was Bruce's 26th homer of the season, and his fifth in the last seven games. With 208 career home runs, he is two away from tying Ken Griffey Jr. for seventh on the club's all-time list.
"I've been hitting some homers. It's still a pretty embarrassing year for me, overall," said Bruce, who is batting .229 this season. "I expected to play a certain way and I haven't. You've got to make the best of it, put in the work and try to do better. I've got 10 games left now, 10 opportunities to do what I can."
Duvall ties it up: Two batters after Eugenio Suarez hit a one-out, sixth-inning double, pinch-hitter Adam Duvall finished Matz's night with a sharp ground ball that handcuffed Wright and bounced to the outfield. Ruled a single, it plated Suarez with the tying run and stuck Matz, who allowed 10 hits but no walks, with a no-decision. Matz tied his career high with eight strikeouts.
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With a two-hit game and a walk, Joey Votto reached safely for his 41st consecutive game, tying the career high he set in 2010. That also put him one game away from matching the Twins' Joe Mauer, who has the Majors' longest streak of reaching safely this season with 42 games.
The Mets extended a franchise record by scoring at least three runs in their 28th consecutive road game. Since 1900, only the 1912 Giants (30 games) and 1995 Reds (29 games) have strung together longer streaks.
Robles, who drew the ire of the Phillies -- and bench coach Larry Bowa in particular -- for a quick pitch last month in Philadelphia, was docked a ball by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari for doing the same thing to Bruce in the eighth. Mets manager Terry Collins stormed out of the dugout but avoided an ejection, giving him a prime view of Bruce's home run later in the at-bat.
Collins' contention stemmed from the fact that in Philadelphia, umpires washed away Robles' pitch entirely instead of calling it a ball.
"If it's a ball or if it's no pitch, somebody's wrong," Collins said. "I'd like to get it cleaned up."
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Noah Syndergaard will make his penultimate start of the regular season when the Mets return to Great American Ball Park for a 7:10 p.m. ET game Friday. Syndergaard will need to win each of his final two starts to reach double-digit victories in his rookie season.
Reds:Anthony DeSclafani will make his team-high 30th start of the season when he faces New York on Friday. DeSclafani has 17 quality starts, including eight in his last 11 outings. He did not fare well in his last outing on Sunday in an 8-4 loss. The rookie allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings.