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Brewers bid to inch closer to NL Central title vs. fading Mets

Sat Sep 25 7:25am ET

The three-game series between the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers that concluded July 7 felt like a potential preview in the National League Division Series.

A lot has changed since then. And on Saturday night -- when the Brewers will host the Mets in the middle contest of a three-game series -- Milwaukee officially can clinch its spot in a division series while eliminating New York from playoff contention.

Right-hander Corbin Burnes (10-4, 2.34 ERA) will look to bolster his case for the NL Cy Young Award when he takes the mound for the Brewers against left-hander Rich Hill (6-7, 3.87).

The Brewers reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central to two Friday night. Willy Adames and Christian Yelich hit back-to-back homers in the third inning and Eric Lauer tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in a 5-1 win over the Mets.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Brewers (92-62), who entered the series against the Mets fresh off absorbing a four-game sweep against the scorching St. Louis Cardinals.

But the margin of error built throughout a summer provides the Brewers the comfort of tuning up for the playoffs.

"It was nice as a team pick-me-up," Lauer said of Friday's win. "We got a little stagnant there with the Cardinals. They're playing really good baseball. You can't take that away from them.

"We're kind of jumping right back on the horse here."

A disastrous end-of-season stretch continued Friday for the Mets (73-80), who have lost 11 of 14 and are 27-42 since the Brewers left Citi Field in July.

The Mets, who led the NL East for 114 days this season, were eliminated from contention for the NL's second wild-card spot with the Cardinals' win over the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a doubleheader Friday. A loss to the Brewers on Saturday -- or a win by the division-leading Atlanta Braves over the San Diego Padres -- will eliminate New York from NL East contention.

"Knowing that we spent the majority of the season in first place, knowing that our chances were really, really high -- it's tough," Mets manager Luis Rojas said Friday.

Burnes didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start Sept. 18, when he allowed three runs over six innings against the Chicago Cubs. He enters Saturday second in the NL in ERA behind only Los Angeles' Max Scherzer (2.28) and third in strikeouts with 221 behind Philadelphia's Zack Wheeler (240) and Scherzer (232).

Hill didn't factor into the decision Sunday, when he gave up two runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Phillies. He is 0-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 23.

Burnes is 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two games (one start) against the Mets.

Hill is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Brewers.

--Field Level Media

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