MIAMI — With time running out in the playoff race, the New York Mets set sympathy aside.
Noah Syndergaard struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings Tuesday night, and the Mets totaled 19 hits to beat the grieving Miami Marlins 12-1.
Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit his 31st homer for the Mets, who maintained their half-game lead over the Giants for the first NL wild card. San Francisco routed Colorado 12-3.
The Cardinals also won, beating Cincinnati 12-5, and remained 1 1/2 games behind the Mets with five days left in the regular season.
The game was Miami’s second since the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. One night after the Marlins’ heart-tugging victory over New York filled with tributes to their teammate, emotions were more subdued, and their bats were too.
Syndergaard (14-9) had a lot to do with that.
“Last night was a little different for us,” he said. “We just went out there tonight and competed. I feel like that’s what Jose would have wanted us to do, with as much passion and heart as possible.”
After missing a scheduled start Saturday due to strep throat, Syndergaard threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.60, third-best in the majors.
“I felt great. I felt strong out there,” Syndergaard said. “Every game right now coming down to the wire is critical. I tried to keep things simple, and went out there and tried to win each pitch.”
He’ll return for the regular-season finale Sunday at Philadelphia if needed.
Miami’s Dee Gordon, who hit a Hollywood-worthy homer in the first inning Monday, again got things going in the first. This time he reached on a bunt, stole second and came home on a single by Marcell Ozuna.
But against Syndergaard, the Marlins advanced only one other runner to second base.
“I’m sure our guys are exhausted,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “But momentum is controlled by their guy. This cat’s got great stuff.”
For mourners at Marlins Park, there were nudges toward a return to normal. The Kiss Cam and organ music returned after a one-game hiatus, but the dugout dancers were still missing, along with the sea creatures that usually race around the warning track.
Marlins players were back in their regular uniforms after they all wore Fernandez’s No. 16 on Monday. But each jersey sported a patch with “16” on the sleeve, and the number remained stenciled on the back of the mound.
The crowd was mostly quiet, except for transplanted New Yorkers. Bruce hit a two-run homer into the upper deck in right field off Tom Koehler in the second inning, and Cespedes hit an even more majestic two-run shot off the home run sculpture in the third.
Lucas Duda contributed a three-run double, and Bruce and Curtis Granderson also drove in three runs for the Mets.
“We kind of got back to business as usual,” Bruce said. “Hearts are still heavy, and they’re going to be here. But we needed to win this game today, and we were able to do that.”
Koehler (9-13) allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Mets manager Terry Collins said RHP Bartolo Colon was unable to block out the emotions of the occasion when he allowed a season-high seven runs in 2 1/3 innings Monday.
“We’re going to throw that out,” Collins said. “There were just too many things on everybody’s mind. I don’t think the true focus was there.”
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton said it’s important that the team pay proper tribute to Fernandez as they grieve.
“It has nothing to do with baseball,” Stanton said before the game. “If you care about life, if you have passion or loved ones or anybody, you can relate to this situation.”
A memorial service and public viewing for Fernandez are scheduled for Wednesday. Players will attend a Mass on Thursday.
Fernandez’s agent, Scott Boras, watched the game with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz will undergo surgery next week to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow and miss the rest of the season. … 3B Wilmer Flores (wrist) will sit out the rest of the series and will likely miss the rest of the regular season.
Mets RHP Seth Lugo (4-2, 2.61) is scheduled to start the rubber game of the series Wednesday against RHP Jose Urena (4-8, 5.95).