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Four-run eighth gives Jonathon Niese win and Mets their fifth in a row

The New York Mets' Juan Lagares celebrates with

The New York Mets' Juan Lagares celebrates with teammates after he scored in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins during a game in Miami, Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015. Lagares hit a two-run triple to get on base, then scored on a double by Curtis Granderson. Credit: AP / Joe Skipper

MIAMI - Both on the field and off it, the Mets embraced their newfound status as legitimate contenders, beating the Marlins, 5-1, Tuesday night to win before swinging another trade to help fill a hole in the bullpen.

Following the game, the Mets acquired lefty specialist Eric O'Flaherty along with cash from the A's for a player to be named later.

To make room on the roster, Alex Torres was designated for assignment, ending a mostly unproductive run with the Mets since he was acquired from the Padres in a spring-training trade.

"We're in a position now where we're trying to win every day," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "It was an opportunity to get a veteran lefty."

Before the trade, the rejuvenated Mets extended their winning streak to five. They have won eight of their last 10 games and remained a game ahead of the Nationals, who also won.

"It's a confident group," said Eric Campbell, whose pinch-hit single in the eighth inning snapped a 1-1 tie. "Now the thinking is, when is something good going to happen? We've been swinging the bats well and it seems like everything's falling our way right now."

The same could be said on the trade front. The Mets had eyed O'Flaherty, 30, even before he was designated for assignment Saturday. He posted a 5.91 ERA in 25 games, though those numbers obscured his value.

Righties battered O'Flaherty for a .420 average, but lefties hit just .186 against him.

When O'Flaherty cleared waivers -- as is required after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline -- the Mets jumped on the chance to add a weapon against lefties.

"The last two or three weeks of playing with him in Oakland, he looked like himself," said Mets setup man Tyler Clippard, who was traded from the A's last week.

Though it was far from the splashiest move, the Mets hope that O'Flaherty can help bridge the gap until the return of lefty specialist Jerry Blevins, whose return still appears far off after suffering a fractured elbow in April. "With Jerry being out as long as he had been, we couldn't wait," Ricco said. "It was an opportunity to improve the club and we decided to move."

Meanwhile, the Mets made sure to protect their newly earned perch atop the National League East.

Just one day after nudging past the Nationals for sole possession of first place, the Mets used an eighth-inning outburst to come within one win of sweeping the Marlins.

Campbell triggered an avalanche against Marlins reliever Mike Dunn. With two out, two on and the game still tied, Campbell's soft liner sailed into shallow leftfield to score the go-ahead run.

Juan Lagares followed with a two-run triple to the spacious gap. Curtis Granderson punctuated the four-run rally with a run-scoring double.

Since a 15-2 drubbing of the Dodgers on July 25, the Mets' offense has come alive, averaging 5.9 runs. They improved to 40-6 when scoring at least four runs.

Lefty Jon Niese (6-9) held the Marlins to just one run and four hits in seven innings before watching the Mets seize control in the eighth.

"Our offense is pretty exciting," Niese said. "At any given time during the game, they can explode. It's a good feeling."


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