The New York Mets owned a somewhat comfortable 5 1/2-game lead in the National League East when they took three of four at home against the Miami Marlins more than two weeks ago.

New York’s lead is significantly less secure as they host the Marlins in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.

The Mets are hoping to pad their lead before heading to Atlanta for a three-game series on Monday.

Since ending their last home series over Miami with a 6-0 win on June 20, the Mets are 6-7 and their lead has shrunk to 2 1/2 games over Atlanta, which is 10-5 in that same span.

New York is coming off one of its better offensive performances of late as it scored five times in the 10th inning of an 8-3 win over the host Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. After Starling Marte’s tying double in the ninth inning, Dominic Smith hit a tiebreaking double, James McCann had an RBI single and Brandon Nimmo belted a three-run homer.

New York scored 15 runs in its two wins in Cincinnati, which were sandwiched around a 1-0 loss on Tuesday.

“It’s a relief for (those with the big hits), it’s a relief for us,” Nimmo said. “It’s a game won. So everybody feels better about it at the end of the day. It’s a huge relief.”

The Marlins are 10-5 since their last visit to New York and were hoping to enter the series at .500.

Instead, they ran into a dominant Shohei Ohtani and saw a six-game winning streak halted with a 5-2 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. Miami was held to three hits and was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the loss.

During their winning streak, the Marlins scored 27 runs and produced 52 hits.

“I think this is going to be hopefully a good series for us going to New York,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I’ve mentioned it before, we’ve won I think maybe seven, maybe a six and a five (game winning streak) but we really haven’t sustained momentum after that and I think that’s the key for us now is to build momentum where we’re going to show we’re going to play good for the long haul and not be as streaky. So hopefully that’s what we show in this next series.”

New York opens the series by sending Trevor Williams (1-5, 4.34 ERA) to the mound for his eighth start. Williams is 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA as a starting pitcher this season and last pitched in Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Texas Rangers when he allowed a season-high five runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Williams is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against the Marlins.

Miami counters with Daniel Castano (1-1, 2.42), who held the Mets to two runs and five hits in seven innings during a no-decision on June 26 when the Marlins earned a 3-2, 10-inning win.

In four career appearances (three starts) against New York, Castano is 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

Castano followed up his effective outing against the Mets by allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings of a 5-3 win at Washington on Saturday.

–Field Level Media