MIAMI -- The jockeying for position in the National League East got a little tighter on Friday night as the Mets moved to within a half-game of the second-place Marlins with a 5-3 win at Marlins Park. The intensity was evident all night, and the Mets responded behind José Reyes' three hits, two runs scored and an RBI, a pair of Yoenis Céspedes sacrifice flies and James Loney's two-run homer in the ninth.
Reyes started the decisive rally with a single to lead off the seventh, and he scored the go-ahead run on Cespedes' fly ball to center off David Phelps. The Marlins' bullpen had a streak of 16 1/3 scoreless innings going before Cespedes' sac fly. The Mets are now 51-44, while the Marlins are 52-44.
Christian Yelich's two-run homer off Logan Verrett in the sixth inning pulled the Marlins even. New York took a first-inning lead off Adam Conley on Cespedes' sacrifice fly and added a second run in the fourth on Reyes' RBI single. Loney's blast off Fernando Rodney came after Cespedes was hit by a pitch with two outs, providing needed insurance for the Mets as the Marlins scored a run in the ninth before Jeurys Familia converted his 50th consecutive regular-season save.
Verrett, making his third start since joining the rotation after Matt Harvey's season-ending surgery, was solid up until the Yelich homer that knocked him out of the game. The right-hander yielded two runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.
"He pitched very well tonight. He really did," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "In the sixth inning, he just started getting the ball up. The ball that [J.T.] Realmuto hit was up. I thought he could get Yelich with the changeup, but he wasn't going to face [Giancarlo] Stanton."
"That kind of guy is giving us trouble over the last probably week, 10 days -- the guy who changes speeds, pitches backwards," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It's something we've talked about."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Reyes wreaks havoc: Reyes made his presence felt against his former team. The third baseman had three hits, but none was more important than his fourth at-bat. Reyes laced a leadoff single off Phelps in the seventh and then motored to third on Curtis Granderson's single before scoring on the sacrifice fly. Reyes' three-hit game marked his first of 2016.
"I hope he has a lot more of them like that," Collins said. "He's still got good bat speed. The hands are still quick. It's a matter of accumulating some at-bats where he's pretty comfortable from both sides. He gets a little jumpy every once in a while, but that's just from a lack of playing." More >
Yelich goes yard … again: The book on Yelich has always been that he's a pure hitter who will eventually develop power. Perhaps the 24-year-old is finding his home run swing now. With his blast to right-center off Verrett in the sixth inning, it was his third shot in his last four games. Yelich also has 10 home runs, a career high. Since the All-Star break, he has three homers and nine RBIs, and his 54 RBIs are now tops on the Marlins. More >
"He's been really good. We've talked about him and Martin [Prado] all year long, [they] have been kind of the two guys," Mattingly said, noting they've been consistent while others have been more streaky. "Those two guys seem to just kind of walk down the road with their hits, keep driving in runs, just steady."
The big five-oh: Familia earned his 50th consecutive regular-season save, despite surrendering his first run since June 4 on Martín Prado's pinch-hit RBI single. The save extends Familia's franchise record and is the fourth-longest streak in Major League history. Familia leads all closers with 34 saves this season.
"It's unbelievable," Collins said. "You just have great confidence when he goes out there, and you just feel good that he's going to keep the ball in the ballpark and they're going to hit the ball on the ground and you've got a shot." More >
Conley keeps things close: The game didn't start off well for Conley, who allowed a double to Reyes on the second pitch. Holding runners was an issue for Conley early in the season, but he's improved in that area of late. Still, Reyes swiped third. It was a battle for the lefty to get through six innings, but he did, showing the ability to work out of jams, and the Mets stranded seven against him. Although Friday's result didn't go in Miami's favor, Conley envisions a strong stretch run.
"I'm just excited about the talent that we have and our chances," Conley said. "I believe in this group. On paper, obviously, we're talented. We've seen through better than half a season that we can win games and compete in this division and in baseball."
"It's not so much the series, it's the rest of the season. We're going to be playing big games the rest of the way if we're going to go where we want to go. We're definitely a capable team. We've shown that all year. We just have to come back tomorrow and get a 'W.'" -- Phelps, on what looms in the second half
ICHIRO'S QUEST FOR 3,000 ON HOLD
Ichiro Suzuki had a pinch-hit opportunity in the eighth inning, but he struck out on three pitches against Addison Reed. The 42-year-old remains at 2,996 career hits in the Major Leagues, as he is on the verge of becoming the 30th player in MLB history to reach 3,000. More >
The Marlins had a challenge go their way in the eighth inning, and it didn't take much time. The initial call was Alejandro De Aza was safe attempting to steal second with two outs, but a replay review revealed that shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria tagged De Aza on the helmet before he reached the base, and the ruling was overturned.
Mets:Jacob deGrom (6-4, 2.38 ERA) will take the mound Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET after tossing his first career complete game in his last start, a one-hit shutout against the Phillies. He's 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in eight career starts against Miami.
Marlins:José Fernández (11-4, 2.53 ERA) makes his second start since the All-Star break. Fernandez is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts against the Mets this season, and 25-1 with a 1.43 ERA lifetime at Marlins Park.
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