MILWAUKEE (AP)—The shadows in late afternoon at Miller Park can be brutal to hitters, but Carlos Delgado made good contact anyway.
“Probably the worst shadows that I’ve been involved with since I’ve been in professional baseball, but it goes the same way for both teams,” Delgado said. “It was pretty tough, but whatever. We got it done.”
The Mets had little success against Ben Sheets, but the Brewers’ right-hander left the game after five scoreless innings as a precautionary measure with tightness in his left groin. New York then battered six Milwaukee relievers for four runs on seven hits and four walks in the final four innings.
“He’s one of our top pitchers,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said of Sheets. “Do you wanna take a chance of losing him? I don’t. I take no chances with starting pitchers this time of year. Very, very slight, started to get some tightness and I’m not taking a chance of him pulling it.”
It was the fourth win in five games for the Mets, and all four victories have been comebacks.
“Good teams do this,” Delgado said. “It’s important. It shows that you can do it. Ideally, you want to be ahead but if you’re not you’ve got to put together some good at bats, get some base runners and come up with a big hit. It says a lot about the character and the will we have with this ballclub.”
It was Delgado’s 462nd career homer, tying him with Jose Canseco for 31st place on the all-time list.
“Obviously, it’s flattering,” Delgado said. “I’m going to play a couple more years, so I’m not so concerned with the guys on that list.”
The Mets first baseman has 20 homers and 60 RBI since June 27, the most of any NL player in that time.
“Carlos has been amazing,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “If he’s swinging it well, he seems to come up at the right time and put a good swing on it. He’s been outstanding.”
While the Milwaukee relievers imploded, the beleaguered Mets bullpen pitched three shutout innings. Nelson Figueroa (3-3) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the victory in relief of Johan Santana. Luis Ayala pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five chances.
“They stepped up and attacked the hitters,” Manuel said. “Threw strikes. I felt that going in, a lot of our right handers appear to match up well with this team. They’re a very aggressive hitting club. We were able to get it done.”
Gagne (4-3) gave up three runs and four hits in the eighth. He has a 6.81 ERA this year after signing a $10 million, one-year contract with the Brewers.
Trailing 2-1, Daniel Murphy greeted Gagne with a double. One out later, Delgado hit his 31st home run of the year to give New York a 3-2 lead.
“He was trying to make an 0-2 pitch, and it got too much of the plate,” Yost said. “He wasn’t even trying to throw a strike. He just didn’t hit his spot. He didn’t execute.”
Carlos Beltran singled and scored on Ryan Church’s double to the center-field wall, increasing the Mets’ lead to 4-2. Beltran later left the game with a bruise behind his right knee suffered when colliding with home plate umpire Ed Rapuano while sliding into home.
Tony Bernazard, the Mets’ vice president of player development, said Beltran was day-to-day and the injury did not appear to be serious.
“He’s sore, but he should be fine,” Bernazard said.
New York starter Johan Santana pitched six innings, giving up two runs and seven hits. He struck out 10.
Sheets had given up only two hits and a walk before being pulled. The right-hander—counted on along with CC Sabathia to lead the Brewers back to the playoffs for the first time since 1982—put on a team jacket and stayed in the dugout talking with manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Mike Maddux after leaving the game.
A year after blowing a seven game lead in the final 19 days of the season, the Mets fell behind quickly in their first game of September. Milwaukee made it 1-0 in the first when J.J. Hardy’s liner to left hit off Murphy’s glove and rolled into the left-field corner. Murphy slipped on the warning track and Hardy slid into third with a triple.
Ryan Braun followed with a double to left to make it 1-0.
Santana balked with Prince Fielder on third in the sixth, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
The Mets scored their first run in the seventh on reliever Mitch Stetter’s wild pitch, allowing Beltran to score from third. Stetter then got Jose Reyes to fly out with runners on second and third to preserve the lead.
Mets closer Billy Wagner threw about 20 pitches off a mound Monday. Bernazard said the team would “see how it feels” on Tuesday before deciding what the next step would be for Wagner, on the DL with a strained left forearm.