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Mets inch closer

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NEW YORK—Jonathon Niese won for the first time in a month and Michael Conforto homered as the N.Y. Mets inched closer to an NL East title with a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves last night.

Daniel Murphy lined a two-run double and Yoenis Cespedes had three hits as the Mets handed hard-luck Shelby Miller (5-16) his 15th-straight defeat.

New York stretched its lead to 6.5 games over the second-place Nationals with 12 to play and lowered its magic number for clinching the division to seven.

Washington’s interleague home game against Baltimore was postponed because of rain and rescheduled for Thursday.

Thanks in large part to Niese (9-10), the Mets rebounded nicely from a disappointing loss to the cross-town rival Yankees in the “Subway Series.”

The left-hander tossed three-hit ball for six innings—keeping the ball down during an encouraging outing and getting 13 of his 18 outs on the ground.

Niese had an 8.77 ERA in his previous five starts, though the Mets won four of those games.

He might need to string several strong outings together to keep his spot in a potential playoff rotation.

Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia finished the five-hitter for New York, which had dropped four of five since an eight-game winning streak.

Miller, meanwhile, threw a season-high 113 pitches in six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits, including Conforto’s homer.

The right-hander is winless in his last 23 outings—the longest drought for a starter in Atlanta history—since coming within one out of a no-hitter in a 6-0 win at Miami back on May 17.

It was the 13th time in those 23 starts Miller yielded no more than two earned runs.

He has received by far the worst run support in the majors.

Miller’s winless streak already was the longest for any big-league pitcher in a season he was an all-star.

Conforto, called up directly from ‘AA’ in late July, was presented with his Mets’ minor-league player-of-the-year award before the game.

He sent a solo shot to left-centre in the second inning to make it 2-0.

Pinch-hitter Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson singled in front of Murphy’s double off Andrew McKirahan in the seventh.

Elsewhere in the NL, Chicago beat Milwaukee 9-5, St. Louis edged Cincinnati 2-1, Pittsburgh dumped Colorado 9-3, and Arizona doubled L.A. 8-4.

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