NEW YORK — Centerfielder Ender Inciarte robbed Yoenis Cespedes of a winning homer for the final out, and the Mets were handed another costly defeat by last-place Atlanta when the Braves rallied for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night.
With two runners on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cespedes launched a drive to deep right-center. Inciarte raced a long way to the wall and timed his jump perfectly, catching the ball just above the orange line atop the fence.
He held up his glove in excitement as Cespedes turned and walked slowly off the field. Some fans in the stunned crowd of 32,187 at Citi Field still had their hands on their heads as they filed up the aisles toward the exits.
New York remained tied with the Cardinals in the NL wild-card race, a half-game behind the Giants pending San Francisco's late game at Dodger Stadium. The teams began the day in a three-way tie for the league's final two playoff spots.
Bartolo Colon and Jeurys Familia failed to protect a three-run lead for the Mets in a late-season thriller. An error by normally sure-handed first baseman James Loney helped Atlanta tie the score with an unearned run in the eighth.
Inciarte had an RBI groundout against Familia in the top of the ninth, sending the Braves to their fifth straight victory. They completed their second straight three-game sweep at Citi Field, including one in June.
NATIONALS 8, MARLINS 3: Max Scherzer pitched 62/3 solid innings to help visiting Washington end a four-game losing streak and lower its magic number to three to clinch the NL East. Scherzer's eight strikeouts gave him 267, most in the majors and nine shy of the career high he set last season.
ROCKIES 11, CARDINALS 1: Nolan Arenado hit a grand slam, former Rays prospect German Marquez pitched five solid innings in his first major-league start and host Colorado slowed St. Louis' playoff chase.
CUBS 9, REDS 2: John Lackey pitched seven strong innings for host Chicago, which reduced its magic number to two for clinching homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
PIRATES 4, BREWERS 1: Former Ray Sean Rodriguez hit a home run and a two-run single and Andrew McCutchen also homered for Pittsburgh, which won its sixth straight at Miller Park and sixth in seven overall.
INDIANS 4, ROYALS 3: Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber pitched 61/3 strong innings as host Cleveland eliminated the reigning World Series champions from the AL Central race and reduced its magic number for clinching the division to five. Kluber went into the game third among AL pitchers in FanGraphs' wins above replacement and outpitched both ahead of him, White Sox left-hander Chris Sale and Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka.
MARINERS 2, BLUE JAYS 1 (12): Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning as host Seattle avoided a sweep and prevented Toronto from extending its wild-card lead. The Mariners won for the second time in six games to remain on the edge of the playoff chase.
RED SOX 5, ORIOLES 1: Visiting Boston scored five unearned runs in the sixth inning after a throwing error by first baseman Chris Davis and padded its AL East. Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who will seek to complete a four-game sweep tonight.
ANGELS 5, RANGERS 4: MVP candidate Mike Trout homered and Jered Weaver pitched six innings for his 150th career victory for visiting Los Angeles. Texas' magic number to win its second straight AL West title remained at two.
ASTROS 6, A'S 5: Evan Gattis homered twice, catcher Jason Castro threw out a runner to end the game and visiting Houston completed a sweep.
Around the league
ANGELS: Outfielder Mike Trout on Tuesday reached 10 wins above replacement according to baseball-reference.com, making him the first player to do so since he finished with 10.8 bWAR in 2012. Trout and Barry Bonds are the only players since 2000 to reach 10 bWAR more than once.
ASTROS: Outfielder Preston Tucker, a former Plant High standout, will need right shoulder surgery and won't be able to pick up a bat for a few months. He's expected to be ready for spring training.
GIANTS: Right-hander Johnny Cueto could miss his next scheduled start because of a groin strain.