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ATL@NYM: Niese hurls six innings of one-run ball

As if Major League Baseball's postseason race wasn't crowded enough, the Brewers have joined in with their recent surge.

Winners of three straight and seven of their last 10, the Brewers enter a three-game series against the Mets at home only three games out of the second National League Wild Card spot. After Wednesday night's 8-2 win over the Braves, the Brewers are above .500 for the first time since April 12.

"If there's not a second Wild Card, a lot of teams right now are going, 'Wow, that was a bummer year,'" Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Us included."

In the series opener on Friday night, Milwaukee right-hander Mike Fiers will pursue the 10th win of his rookie season despite not joining the Brewers' rotation until late May. The 27-year-old has won three of his last four starts and enters the series 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA.

Given Milwaukee's struggles up until recently, Fiers' emergence has been critical in the team's second-half resurgence.

"I always thought we were still in it, no matter how far we were back," Fiers told reporters after his last start, a 6-3 win over the Cardinals on Saturday. "I just thought with the hitting and pitching combined, and the defense we play, it was definitely a team that deserved to be in the playoffs. We just needed to put it together."

From the opposite dugout on Friday, the Mets will take the field looking to halt a six-game losing streak. Most recently, the Mets dropped three straight at home to the Nationals, owners of MLB's best record.

"I've done this long enough to know that you don't ever give up, you don't ever stop grinding it out, you don't ever stop trying to come up with a plan, you don't ever stop walking through the locker room every day making sure guys are upbeat and positive and ready to move forward," Mets manager Terry Collins said after New York's 5-1 loss to the Nats on Monday. "That hasn't changed one bit."

Brewers: Gomez day to day with quad injury
After a strong slide broke up a double play in the second inning of Wednesday's game, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez exited with a bruised lower quadriceps in his right leg. The Brewers said Gomez is day to day.

After Travis Ishikawa knocked a ground ball up the middle, Gomez banged into Braves shortstop Paul Janish, preventing him from making a strong relay throw to first. But Gomez limped off the field and did not return. Rookie Logan Schafer took over in center field.

Gomez emerged as Milwaukee's everyday center fielder earlier this season and is batting .249 with career-high 16 home runs, as well as 32 stolen bases.

Mets: Niese takes the mound in series opener
A hard-luck loser over his past three outings, left-hander Jon Niese will pitch Friday without the need to make many adjustments. Niese has a 3.32 ERA on 20 hits over 19 innings during that three-start span.

Niese is 10-9 with a 3.47 ERA over 171 innings, just shy of the career-high 173 2/3 innings he tossed in 2010. Friday's start will be his first time facing the Brewers this season. Niese's last appearance against Milwaukee came on June 9, 2011, when he threw 7 2/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and four walks in a 4-1 win.

Worth noting
•The Brewers have won 18 of their last 23 games, dating back to Aug. 20 against the Cubs.

• The Mets are 35-37 on the road.

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