NEW YORK -- Reaching .500 may not be an insurmountable goal after all.
The playoffs? That still seems too ambitious.
New York Mets
With their seventh win in their past eight games, the Mets improved to 71-75. They have not been this close to .500 since Aug. 2 (53-57).
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who occupy the second wild-card spot, won 6-3 in Philadelphia, so the Mets remain 5˝ back with 16 games remaining.
The Mets won despite mustering five hits. Eric Young Jr. had three of the hits, including a run-scoring triple in the second for the game’s opening run. Juan Lagares provided a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh.
For those into run differential, the Mets are back in the black at plus-one for the season.
The Mets tossed consecutive shutouts for the first time since June 29-30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium.
Jenrry Mejia tossed a perfect ninth to record the save.
Spot shine: Despite a high pitch count and effort that included issuing four walks, Montero took a no-hit bid two outs into the fifth inning. Opposing pitcher Tyler Matzek then doubled over Young’s head in left field to place two in scoring position. Montero rebounded. He coaxed a flyout from Charlie Blackmon that stranded two in scoring position.
Still nursing a 1-0 lead in the sixth, Montero allowed a leadoff double to Drew Stubbs and single to Justin Morneau that placed runners on the corners with none out. He struck out Nolan Arenado and then departed with his pitch count at 106.
Fellow rookie Dario Alvarez entered and retired Corey Dickerson on a squibber that moved Morneau to second base. Carlos Torres entered and retired Michael McKenry to leave both runners in scoring position.
Montero’s final line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K.
Terry Collins said pregame that it is undecided whether Montero would get another start this month. The Mets promoted him in part to gauge his ability in a relief role. And the Mets are reluctant to have their incumbent starting pitchers work with more than one extra day of rest between outings. Monday already is a team off-day.
Quiet night: In his first game at third base in more than three years, Daniel Murphy had no grounders he was required to field.
What’s next: If the Mets are going to make it interesting over the final 16 games, they’ll have to make noise against the first-place Washington Nationals. Two series remain between the teams, including a four-game set at Citi Field that opens Thursday. Bartolo Colon (13-11, 3.96 ERA) opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (12-10, 2.97) in the opener.