NEW YORK -- Asdrubal Cabrera grinned and laughed in the postgame clubhouse, waving across the locker room to Jay Bruce. It was Bruce who slashed a walk-off single up the middle in the 12th inning late Tuesday night, guiding the Mets to a 5-4 win over the Brewers. It was Bruce who saved Cabrera from becoming the Mets' latest scapegoat, his dropped popup in the seventh inning nearly costing them a victory.
"I'm laughing now because we got the win," Cabrera said. "Thank you J.B. He did it for me. He made my night."
Five innings after Cabrera's dropped popup allowed the Brewers to tie the game, Bruce singled home the winning run to wash his teammate in relief. T.J. Rivera opened the rally with a single off reliever Wily Peralta, moving to third on a Michael Conforto walk and a Jose Reyes fielder's choice. That brought up Bruce, whose 10th career walk-off hit was his first with the Mets.
The Brewers' bullpen held the Mets to one hit in 17 at-bats from the end of the sixth inning until the 12th, but New York's relief corps held longer without breaking. Josh Smoker in particular buoyed the Mets with three shutout innings to earn the win.
In his first career start, Mets rookie Tyler Pill pitched into the sixth inning, stranding seven baserunners to hold the Brewers to a single run. But an inning after Pill's exit, Cabrera dropped a popup with the bases loaded, allowing the tying runs to score.
That took Brewers starter Zach Davies off the hook after he allowed two runs in five innings. The Mets extended their margin on Lucas Duda's two-run homer off Carlos Torres in the sixth, but spent all their insurance an inning later when Jett Bandy's popup landed near Cabrera's feet.
"There have been a lot of games where we think we've had it wrapped up, and all of the sudden we can't stop somebody," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "This was one we needed to have."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dropped pop: Gasps floated down from the stands when Cabrera lost sight of Bandy's popup, apparently in the mist engulfing Citi Field. As Cabrera scrambled to collect the baseball, Eric Thames and Hernan Perez both circled the bases, tying the game at 4-4.
"I just missed it," Cabrera said. "I have no excuse for it."
Evading trouble: Pill did not pitch a clean inning all night. He didn't need to, given his propensity for stranding runners. Never did the rookie showcase that ability more clearly than in the fifth, when Thames led off with a triple. Pill twice induced popups from the next batter, Perez -- one that fell in foul territory amidst a cluster of Mets down the first-base line, then another that landed in Reyes' glove. He then struck out Travis Shaw looking and induced a groundout from Domingo Santana to preserve a one-run game.
"We were fortunate to tie it, obviously," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But yeah, we missed a lot of opportunities." More >
"We don't get too worked up about too much. We let everybody else do that." -- Bruce, on the Mets' chaotic season
"[On] 3-2, I made a bad pitch, and I ended up walking [Reyes], but I personally believe it shouldn't have gotten there." -- Davies, on feeling squeezed by home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reyes' RBI walk in the fifth marked the ninth time this season the Mets have drawn a walk with the bases juiced, and the second time this series (Robert Gsellman on Monday). The Mariners, with 10, are the only team to walk with the bases loaded more.
Sparking the Mets' sixth-inning rally with a double to left, Neil Walker became one of 81 active big leaguers with 1,000 hits. The Mets employ three of the top 23 players on that list: Reyes (2,008), David Wright (1,777) and Curtis Granderson (1,597).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mets erased a baserunner when Collins successfully challenged second-base umpire Roberto Ortiz's call that Manny Pina was safe at second on a fielder's choice in the 12th. Rather than having a first-and-second, one-out rally, the Brewers were left with a man on first and two outs. They did not score.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Much like the grey, overcast holding pattern that seems to have parked itself over Citi Field, the Brewers will stay in New York for the third game of a four-game set. Junior Guerra (0-0, 3.12 ERA), who is one start removed from a seven-week stint on the disabled list, will start for Milwaukee on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT.
Mets:Jacob deGrom (4-1, 3.23 ERA) will look to continue his winning ways when the Mets return to Citi Field for a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Brewers. DeGrom is 4-0 in his last six starts, with a 3.66 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 14 walks over that 39 1/3-inning stretch.