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Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.

When the New York Mets last saw the Miami Marlins, they lost two of three as their NL East lead was cut to four games.

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One week later, New York has yet to lose since and the postseason is a near certainty.

The Mets expect to have Yoenis Cespedes back in the lineup on Monday night when they seek an eighth straight win in the opener of this three-game home series with the Marlins.

New York (82-61) started a 10-game trip by losing two of three to Miami from Sept. 4-6 before heading to Washington, which was four games back. The Mets swept three games from the second-place Nationals before sweeping four in Atlanta, with their division lead now at 9 1/2.

"It's really hard to imagine that we would be sitting where we are right now," manager Terry Collins said. "Even though we thought we had a good team, this is far above what we expected."

New York faced a three-run deficit in the ninth inning Sunday with the red-hot Cespedes out of the lineup. Daniel Murphy hit a tying three-run homer and the Mets scored three times in the 10th for a 10-7 victory.

Cespedes struck out as a pinch hitter. He's batting .392 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in his last 11 starts, going deep in each of the last two.

The slugger initially declined Collins' offer for extra rest Saturday night, then changed his mind. It marked the second time he hasn't started since he was acquired from Detroit on July 31.

Cespedes has hit safely in all nine career games against Miami (61-82) with a .364 average, two homers, nine RBIs and 14 runs scored.

The Mets also rested shortstop Wilmer Flores and catcher Travis d'Arnaud on Sunday.

New York has never faced left-handed Miami starter Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.72 ERA), who could be a formidable opponent since he is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in three road starts.

Nicolino wasn't as sharp in his last outing Monday at home against Milwaukee, surrendering five runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-1 defeat.

"I was just leaving too many pitches up in the zone," Nicolino said.

The Mets are 18-13 when facing lefty starters.

Miami starts a seven-game trip after going 6-3 on a homestand that began with the New York series that featured two walk-off wins. Sunday's 5-0 loss to Washington that ended a four-game win streak did little to dampen the club's mood.

"We won three series to go 6-3, and I'm very proud of the way these guys have played over these last three or four weeks," manager Dan Jennings said. "I liked the effort and the energy and playing smart, aggressive baseball."

Martin Prado batted .406 on the homestand, going 7 for 14 against the Mets. Miami is 6-10 in the season series.

The Mets are starting Logan Verrett (1-0, 1.93) on Monday in place of Matt Harvey, whose innings are being limited. Verrett's first career start was an eight-inning effort in which he yielded one run in a 5-1 victory at Colorado on Aug. 23.

The right-hander, who was called up Tuesday from Triple-A Las Vegas, has never faced Miami.