CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jon Niese welcomes the chance to go out as a winner.
Niese limited Cincinnati's offense for seven innings, and Daniel Murphy hit a three-run homer, leading the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory Tuesday night that dealt a costly setback to the Reds' hopes of another division title.
Cincinnati's Mike Leake (14-7) gave up four runs and eight hits in only 12⁄3 innings, matching the shortest start of his career. Wilfredo Tovar ended Leake's scoreless innings streak at 212⁄3 with an RBI single, and Murphy's homer gave Niese (8-8) the big lead.
The left-hander has pitched well since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 11 after recovering from a partial tear in his shoulder. He could start the final game of the Mets' season on Sunday, giving him a chance to finish with a winning record.
"I want to pitch," he said. "It's my turn, and I don't want to put another guy in an awkward position."
Manager Terry Collins hasn't decided if he'll let him pitch again or have him rest the shoulder.
"He's got a chance to go 9-8," Collins said. "I'll talk to Jon in a couple of days and see how he feels."
Niese kept lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in check again, holding them to a combined 0 for 6 with four strikeouts. Niese allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings. Vic Black faced three batters in the ninth, getting his first career save on his second try.
Eric Young Jr. had a single and a double, scored a run and stole his 42nd base for the Mets, who have won eight of 12.
The defeat was costly for Cincinnati.
The Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates clinched playoff spots on Monday night, but hoped to chase down the first-place St. Louis Cardinals with closing surges. Leake's one very bad inning made that much less likely for the Reds.
Cincinnati fell a daunting three games behind St. Louis, which beat Washington 2-0 on Tuesday night. If they can't catch up, the Reds are headed for the wild card playoff game in a week.
It was a stunning outing for Leake, who has been the Reds' most effective starter lately. The right-hander allowed a total of two runs while winning his last three starts and getting his career-high 14th win.
Will the one bad start weigh in Cincinnati's decision about its postseason pitching staff?
"We aren't even thinking about that yet," Baker said. "Everybody's capable of a bad start. This is the first one in a long time for him.
"He didn't have his good control. He threw some balls over the heart of the plate and up."
Leake gave up two singles in the first inning before escaping. Mike Baxter led off the second with a double and scored on Tovar's single.
The right-hander got an assist when Bruce threw Tovar out at the plate as he tried to score from second base on Niese's single to right field, but it wasn't enough. Murphy's three-run homer on the 10th pitch of his at-bat made it 4-0 with two outs. When David Wright followed with a single -- the Mets' eighth hit -- Baker made the change.
"That happens," Leake said. "There was one pitch that blew it open for them. They just got me."
Niese also got off to a rough start, giving up singles to Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips on his first two pitches of the game. He got out of that threat with the help of center fielder Juan Lagares, who nailed Choo at the plate as he tried to score on Ryan Ludwick's single.
"Two pitches, two hits -- it was kind of crazy," Niese said. "Juan did a great job and I was able to get out of the inning. It was all-around good defense."
Todd Frazier doubled in the second and came around on two groundouts.
Choo tripled -- Lagares charged the ball and missed it -- and scored when Votto grounded into a double play in the fifth, cutting it to 4-2. Votto is 2 for 15 in his career against Niese with seven strikeouts. Bruce is 2 for 13 with six strikeouts.
CARDINALS 2, NATIONALS 0
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha lost his no-hit bid on Ryan Zimmerman's infield single with two outs in the ninth inning, and St. Louis beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 Tuesday night to close in on the NL Central title.
Making his ninth career start, Wacha came about as close as possible to finishing off the third no-hitter in the majors this season. Instead, he became the third pitcher to have a bid broken up with one out to go.
Zimmerman hit a chopper just over Wacha's glove -- the pitcher said he thought it nicked his mitt -- and the ball bounced slowly toward shortstop. A charging Pete Kozma grabbed it with his bare hand and whipped a throw to first that was a little wide, pulling Matt Adams off the bag just as Zimmerman arrived.
The crowd at Busch Stadium let out a loud, collective groan. Third baseman David Freese sat crouched in the infield, stunned at how close his 22-year-old teammate had come.
Wacha (4-1) was pulled after Zimmerman's hit and walked off to a huge ovation. Trevor Rosenthal got Jayson Werth to ground out for his second save.
Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez (11-8) pitched seven effective innings, allowing two runs and six hits.
PIRATES 8, CUBS 2
CHICAGO -- Gerrit Cole threw six strong innings, helping Pittsburgh take over the NL wild-card lead.
The Pirates moved one game ahead of Cincinnati, which lost 4-2 to the Mets. Pittsburgh remained two games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.
One night after clinching their first postseason spot in 21 years, Cole and the Pirates showed few signs of a letdown. Cole hit a two-run single, Pedro Alvarez drove in three runs and Jordy Mercer homered.
Cole (10-7) won his fourth straight start, giving up two runs and seven hits.
Cole's single came during a three-run second inning against Chris Rusin (2-6).
BRAVES 3, BREWERS 2
ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons hit a game-ending RBI single with two out in the ninth, lifting the Braves to the victory.
Justin Upton sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single against Donovan Hand (0-5). Upton advanced on Evan Gattis' one-out grounder that Scooter Gennett bobbled behind second base for an infield hit. After Brian McCann popped out, Simmons' first hit of the night ended the game.
Craig Kimbrel (4-3), who leads the majors with 49 saves, struck out the side in the ninth.
Jeff Bianchi hit his first homer of the season in the fifth for Milwaukee.
PHILLIES 2, MARLINS 1
MIAMI -- Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen each drove in a run in the first inning, and the Phillies handed the Marlins their 100th loss of the season.
It's the second triple-digit-loss season in Marlins history, joining the 108-defeat year in 1998. Mike Redmond, the first-year Marlins manager, was a rookie on that team, playing in 37 games.
Ruf drew a bases-loaded walk, Frandsen followed with an RBI groundout and that was all the offense that the Phillies would need. Michael Stutes (3-1) got the win by working a scoreless fifth inning in relief, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 36 chances.
Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez (4-6) allowed five hits and struck out five in seven innings. Justin Ruggiano had two hits for Miami, one of them an RBI double where he was thrown out at third.
DIAMONDBACKS 2, PADRES 1, 12 innings
SAN DIEGO -- Didi Gregorius tripled home the tiebreaking run in the 12th inning to lift the Diamondbacks over the Padres.
Paul Goldschmidt hit his NL-best 36th homer for the Diamondbacks, extending his hitting streak to 14 games and increasing his league-leading RBI total to 124.
Gregorius tripled down the right-field line against Luke Gregerson (6-8) to score fellow rookie Chris Owings, who doubled with one out.
Josh Collmenter (5-4) pitched a perfect inning and Brad Ziegler got three outs for his 12th save.
The Diamondbacks set a major league record for most extra innings played in a season with 79. Arizona, which is 17-7 in extra-inning games, broke the record of 76 set by the 1969 Minnesota Twins.
DODGERS 2, GIANTS 1
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hyun-Jin Ryu and two relievers combined on a five-hitter that sent the Dodgers past the Giants.
Matt Kemp hit a tiebreaking home run leading off the sixth inning for the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig also homered after getting hit by a pitch from Giants starter Matt Cain earlier in the game.
Carl Crawford added three hits for the NL West champions, who have won three straight.
Tony Abreu homered for San Francisco. The Giants got just one runner past first base and were held to no more than one run for the third time in four games.
ROCKIES 8, RED SOX 3
DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon hit his first career leadoff homer and Tyler Chatwood pitched seven strong innings, leading Colorado to the victory.
John Lackey (10-13) struggled on the road again, allowing four runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander is 1-5 away from Fenway Park since the All-Star break.
Lackey also gave up solo homers to Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson.
Chatwood (8-5) shut down a potent Red Sox lineup, yielding an unearned run and three hits.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer in the ninth for AL East champion Boston.
RAYS 7, YANKEES 0
NEW YORK -- Matt Moore had New York flailing for five wild innings, and the Rays beat the Yankees to push them to the brink of missing out on the postseason for the second time in 19 years.
Tampa Bay roughed up Hiroki Kuroda in tightening its grip on an AL wild-card spot with its fifth straight win. Matt Joyce had a leadoff homer as the Rays jumped ahead 3-0 in the first and David DeJesus had two RBI doubles.
Tampa Bay has a one-game lead over Cleveland for the top wild card with five to play. Texas and Kansas City played later.
The Yankees trail the Indians, who won 5-4, by five games -- and also are behind the Rangers and Royals. The Yankees would be eliminated Wednesday if Cleveland wins and they lose.
Moore (16-4) gave up only three hits but threw three wild pitches to up his AL-leading total to 16 and walked six.
BLUE JAYS 3, ORIOLES 2, 10 innings
BALTIMORE -- The Toronto Blue Jays eliminated Baltimore from the playoff hunt, using two clutch RBI singles by Mark DeRosa to beat the Orioles.
Baltimore's sixth straight loss, combined with Cleveland's comeback win over the Chicago White Sox, left the Orioles six games behind the Indians for the final wild-card slot with five games left.
DeRosa singled in the tying run in the eighth inning and put the Blue Jays ahead in the 10th.
Sergio Santos (1-1) worked a perfect ninth and Casey Janssen got three outs for his 34th save.
Jose Reyes drew a one-out walk in the Toronto 10th off Francisco Rodriguez (2-1) and Munenori Kawasaki singled. Reyes appeared to be picked off second but was called safe, drawing Orioles manager Buck Showalter out to argue the call. Brett Lawrie then hit into a fielder's choice and DeRosa singled to right.
RANGERS 3, ASTROS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Beltre homered at home for the first time in more than a month and the Texas Rangers stayed close in the wild-card race, beating Houston and sending the Astros to their 11th straight loss.
Patrick Henry graduate Marc Krauss had a single in three at-bats along with a walk in the loss. He's hitting .219 for the Astros this season.
With five games left in the regular season, Texas remained a game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot. Tampa Bay is a game ahead of the Indians in a crowded pack.
Beltre's 29th homer snapped a 2-all tie with one out in the sixth. That came after Yu Darvish gave up the lead in the top half of the inning.
Matt Dominguez homered for the Astros. Their 107th loss overall matched the franchise record set last year.
MARINERS 4, ROYALS 0
SEATTLE -- Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning and the Mariners beat Kansas City, putting the Royals' postseason hopes in serious jeopardy.
Mariners rookie left-hander James Paxton (3-0), making just his fourth major league start, worked a career-high seven innings, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out a career-high 10.
The playoff picture looks as bleak as it can be for the Royals (83-74). They are four games behind Cleveland for the second wild-card berth with five games to play.
The Royals' three competitors for the two wild-card spots -- Tampa Bay, Texas and Cleveland -- all won Tuesday. The Royals need to win every game and have both the Indians and Rangers completely collapse.
It was the 13th shutout for the Mariners and the ninth time the Royals have been shut out.
ANGELS 3, ATHLETICS 0
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jason Vargas earned his second shutout of the season with a four-hitter and Howie Kendrick homered, leading the Angels to a victory over the Athletics.
The Athletics, who clinched their second straight division title Sunday, remain a game behind the Red Sox for the best record in the majors following Boston's 8-3 loss at Colorado.
Vargas (9-7) threw 110 pitches, retiring 15 consecutive batters at one point and striking out five en route to his fifth shutout and 10th complete game in 153 career starts. The left-hander, who was acquired from Seattle last December for slugger Kendrys Morales, is 3-3 with a 4.64 ERA in his last nine outings after missing almost two months because of a blood clot near his armpit.
Griffin (14-10) gave up three runs and five hits over five innings.