MIAMI -- With their hold on second place in jeopardy, Noah Syndergaard stepped up with a nine-strikeout performance and wiggled out of a couple of jams, as the Mets clipped the Marlins, 6-2, on Friday night at Marlins Park.
Syndergaard, who worked seven innings, has won four straight decisions. In terms of the National League East standings, the Mets avoided falling into a second-place tie with Miami, and now hold a two-game edge. New York blasted three homers off the bats of Asdrubal Cabrera, James Loney and Rene Rivera.
"That's the thing about us is the ability to pick one another up," Syndergaard said. "I feel like we're able to go out there and handle a lot of adversity, and be able to pick each other up. It's a great thing to be a part of. I really feel like we're going to take off from here."
Loney, who made his Mets debut on Tuesday, delivered the decisive blow, a two-run homer off lefty Mike Dunn. Jumping on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh inning, Loney reached a personal milestone with his 100th big league blast. The Marlins went with a left-on-left matchup after starter Tom Koehler walked Wilmer Flores on four pitches and exited with 105 pitches. Just six of Loney's 100 homers have come against southpaws.
The Marlins claimed the early lead on Marcell Ozuna's leadoff home run to left in the second. Ozuna pulled Miami even at 2 in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.
"I thought it was a well-pitched game," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Tommy threw the ball well. Obviously, their guy threw the ball well. But we jump out early, they get ahead, we come back and tie it up, and then even after that, we get him in trouble again. But we just weren't able to get that hit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Only Loney: Needing to find offensive production with starting position players David Wright, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud on the disabled list, the Mets received a critical burst of it when Loney clobbered a 91-mph Dunn fastball off the facing of Marlins Park's second deck in right field. The home run was Loney's first as a Met and the 100th of his career.
"I told these guys, 'Thanks for all the years we've been through,'" Loney quipped, before growing more serious: "It was good to celebrate with these guys. I told them I was saving it for them." More >
Koehler exits in 7th: After tying it at 2 in the sixth inning, Koehler came out for the seventh. At 101 pitches through six, manager Don Mattingly was hoping to get another inning or at least a few more outs from his right-hander. But Koehler walked Flores on four pitches, and Dunn followed, yielding the homer to Loney that swung the outcome.
"When your manager asks you if you're still good, and you tell him, 'Yes,' he's probably not expecting you to walk the first guy you face," Koehler said. "Unfortunately, there is really only one outcome that can come in that situation. You're either getting a no-decision or you're ending up losing the game. If Flores gets a hit on competitive pitches, maybe I stay in and face Loney." More >
Thor escapes: Syndergaard's most dominant stretch came from the third through sixth innings, when he rebounded from Ozuna's homer to retire nine consecutive Marlins. But his most important pitches may have come in the seventh. After allowing a hit, a walk and three stolen bases to put the tying runs in scoring position, Syndergaard battled Derek Dietrich to a full count before hitting the top of the strike zone with a 90-mph slider. Dietrich swung through it to preserve the Mets' two-run lead.
"I just saw it as a do-or-die situation," Syndergaard said. "Granted, you have an open base and you can pitch around him, but I chose to go right after him. I wanted to finish that inning. It was my inning, and I just wanted to finish it out."
Ozuna cleans up: Even with Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, manager Don Mattingly went with the hot hand in the cleanup spot. Stanton has anchored the fourth spot a majority of the time when he has been healthy. But Ozuna has been the club's most productive batter the past six weeks. He showed why leading off the second. Ozuna connected on Syndergaard's 99-mph fastball and belted a home run into the Clevelander beyond the wall in left. It was Ozuna's 11th homer of the season. Statcast™ projected the drive at 397 feet, with an exit velocity of 104 mph. In the sixth, Ozuna's sacrifice fly evened the score at 2. Ozuna has now appeared in the fourth spot just eight times this year.
"I just like playing in Miami." -- Flores, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, filling in for David Wright as the Mets' primary third baseman
"It's my fifth game in two months. Ultimately, I expect to pitch better. There's no excuses. Just go out there. It doesn't matter how hard you're throwing, you can still get outs. It's all a matter of executing pitches." -- Dunn, on allowing the home run to Loney in his second game since coming off the DL
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Mets setup man Addison Reed, who struck out three of the four Marlins he faced in the eighth, has not allowed a run in 24 of his 27 appearances. Among National League pitchers with at least as many innings as him, only Miami's Jose Fernandez (12.8 per nine innings) and David Hernandez (12.5) boast a higher strikeout rate than Reed (12.4).
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: Baseball's two eldest active players have a chance to square off when 43-year-old Bartolo Colon takes on the Marlins in a 4:10 p.m. ET game on Saturday. Few have more hits off him over the years than 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, who is 29-for-106 lifetime off Colon.
Marlins:Justin Nicolino (2-3, 4.50 ERA) draws Saturday's game at Marlins Park. The left-hander is 1-2 (5.24 ERA) at home this year.