CINCINNATI (AP) — In a season full of indignities, the Reds are on the verge of another one. The New York Mets are getting close to celebrating a division title on Cincinnati's home field.

Daniel Murphy had three hits, including a tiebreaking triple in the seventh inning, and the Mets closed in on their first playoff appearance in nine years by beating the Reds 6-4 Thursday night.

The victory, combined with Washington's loss to Baltimore, reduced the Mets' magic number to three for clinching the NL East crown.

New York can wrap up its sixth division title 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.

Jay Bruce homered for the Reds, who dropped their fifth straight overall. It's the third time this season they've lost at least five in a row.

"It's still a pretty embarrassing year," Bruce said when asked about his homer. "You've just got to make the best of it."

Josh Smith gave up three runs in five innings, needing 94 pitches to get that far in his fifth major league start. He allowed all three runs in the third.

"Smitty had one bad inning, but he came back and threw the ball well," manager Bryan Price said. "That was a good thing for him, to come back after scuffling a little bit."

Steven Matz tried to extend his record-setting start with the Mets, but couldn't hold the 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.

Erik Goeddel (1-1) retired the only batter he faced in the sixth. 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 RBIs, a club 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 Smith.

ROOKIES REACH TRIPLE DIGITS

It was the 100th game started by a Reds rookie this season, a franchise mark. Reds rookies have started a major league-record 54 consecutive games since the club traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in July.

TRAINER'S ROOM

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.

UP NEXT

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 Cueto in 2008 to start that many games. DeSclafani lost his only other start against the Mets, lasting 3 2-3 innings last year with Miami.

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