Max Scherzer earned his 200th career win by tossing six perfect innings on Monday as the visiting New York Mets clinched a playoff spot by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 in the opener of a three-game series.
The Mets (94-55) advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2016, when they fell to the San Francisco Giants in the National League wild-card game.
Pete Alonso hit a monstrous three-run homer in the fourth inning to spark the fifth straight win for the Mets, who remained a game ahead of the second-place Atlanta Braves (92-55) in the National League East. The Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-2.
The Braves' magic number for clinching a playoff berth fell to one by virtue of the loss by the Brewers (78-69), who fell 2 1/2 games behind the idle Philadelphia Phillies (80-66) in the race for the third and final NL wild-card spot.
Scherzer (10-4), who missed the previous 15 days with a left oblique injury, struck out nine while throwing only 68 pitches. He is the 120th pitcher to record 200 wins but just the third active pitcher to reach the milestone, joining former teammate Justin Verlander (243 wins) as well as Zack Greinke (223 wins).
Scherzer also became just the third pitcher all-time to exit having thrown at least six perfect innings without completing the perfect game-- and the second one this season. Clayton Kershaw tossed seven perfect innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins on April 13. On Sept. 10, 2016, the Dodgers' Rich Hill fired seven perfect innings against the Miami Marlins.
The Brewers only flirted with a hit twice against Scherzer. With two outs in the second inning, Andrew McCutchen lined out to right, where Tyler Naquin briefly appeared to lose the ball in the lights before making the catch. In the fourth, Rowdy Tellez grounded out to second baseman Jeff McNeil, who was in shallow right field due to the shift.
Christian Yelich quickly ended the bid for the first combined perfect game in history by doubling to lead off the seventh against Tylor Megill. Tellez homered one out later.
Daniel Vogelbach (double) and Francisco Lindor (triple) had run-scoring extra-base hits for the Mets in the sixth. Tomas Nido and Naquin had RBI singles in the eighth.
Brewers starter Corbin Burnes (10-8) allowed five runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings.
--Field Level Media