CINCINNATI -- With a dismal homestand behind them, the New York Mets now have the National League East title in their sights.
But for now, they're resisting any temptation to plan the champagne dousing for this weekend in Cincinnati.
"Tomorrow has enough worry for itself," said Daniel Murphy, paraphrasing Matthew 6:34. "We're just a step closer."
The Mets second baseman did his part Thursday driving home the go-ahead run with a triple in the seventh, and Lucas Duda added a pair of run-scoring doubles as New York reduced its magic number to three with a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
New York (86-67) increased its lead in the National League East to 7 1/2 games over the Washington Nationals who dropped their third straight to Baltimore on Thursday.
"We don't need a lot of adjectives," said Murphy. "It's fun. This is a great group of guys."
For a moment, it appeared Thursday's game would be the continuation of a miserable 3-6 homestand after Cincinnati tied the score 3-3 in the sixth when pinch-hitter Adam Duvall's hard grounder skipped past David Wright at third.
That run abruptly ended Steven Matz' evening as the rookie right-hander was denied a bid to become the first Mets pitcher to win his first five career decisions.
Matz allowed three runs on 10 hits, while striking out eight with no walks.
"The arm action on his curve ball was better," said manager Terry Collins of Matz. "He has an outstanding changeup. I'd like to see him throw it more. He's getting back into pretty good shape."
Center fielder Yoenis Cespedes ripped a single to center driving home Murphy and Duda doubled as the Mets went ahead 6-3.
Parra (1-2) allowed three runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
All three runs scored after two outs.
"That two-out hit has been eluding us a little bit," Murphy said. "It was a good team win."
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce hit his 26th homer off right-hander Hansel Robles in the eighth. He has four homers in his past seven games.
"He's in one of those periods now," said manager Bryan Price, who's club has lost five straight. "He's made a few adjustments. When he gets those elevated pitches ... he's not missing them."
But, Mets closer Jeurys Familia shut the door in the ninth for his 42nd save.
Eric Goeddel (1-1) got the win.
Matz earned his first major league victory against Cincinnati on June 28.
Phillips, who homered off Matz in that June debut, drove in a run with a single to put Cincinnati ahead 1-0 in the first on Thursday.
The Reds were in position for an even bigger opening inning against the 24-year-old, but Matz fanned third baseman Todd Frazier and Bruce to strand a pair of runners.
Matz said facing Cincinnati for the second time this season worked to his advantage.
"It's more of an advantage for the pitcher," he said. "You see how guys take swings off you."
The Mets pounded rookie Josh Smith in the third, beginning with a single by Matz, who improved to 4-for-4 against Reds pitching.
Wright continued his torrid pace at the plate since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 24 with a RBI double to left-center. He has eight game-tying or go-ahead RBIs since being reinstated.
"(Smith) had one bad inning, but he came back and threw the ball well," said Price. "That was a good thing for him, to come back after scuffling a little bit."
Cespedes' sacrifice fly to center and a double into the right field corner by Duda handed New York a 3-1 lead which the Mets would relinquish, then later regain behind some clutch hitting in the seventh.
"Right now we're in a situation where every win is big," said Collins. "Every game is huge. It was a good night."
NOTES: Mets 3B Juan Uribe was cleared to play Thursday after suffering a chest contusion diving for a ball Sunday. He singled as a pinch-hitter Wednesday. ... Mets RHP Addison Reed pitched a scoreless seventh Thursday with RHP Tyler Clippard unavailable after working in three straight games. ... RHP Josh Smith made the 100th start this season by a Reds rookie Thursday, extending a single-season modern club record. ... Reds CF Billy Hamilton will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Tuesday. Hamilton leads the majors with 57 stolen bases but hasn't played since Sept. 16. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto reached base for the 41st consecutive game.