NEW YORK — The big inning remains elusive for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Hernan Perez and Ryan Braun hit two-run home runs and Travis Shaw added a solo shot, but the show-stopper of an inning Brewers manager Craig Counsell has been longing for remained elusive on Friday night at Citi Field.
Lorenzo Cain ran into an ill-advised out at third base to end a budding rally in the seventh inning, and Jett Bandy tapped out to the pitcher to strand the tying and go-ahead runners in the eighth in a 6-5 loss to the runaway Mets.
Those were far from the only missed opportunities or outright Brewers mistakes that contributed to the Mets’ ninth consecutive victory.
Starter Zach Davies topped 100 pitches and surrendered Todd Frazier’s first two homers as a Met without getting through the fifth inning.
“Zach’s fastball command wasn’t great, which is kind of a rare night for Zach,” Counsell said.
Reliever Dan Jennings unleashed a costly run-scoring wild pitch. Jesus Aguilar committed the Brewers’ major league leading-17th error. Cain and Domingo Santana made dangerous contact on what may have been a miscommunication in right-center field.
“It’s so loud out there,” Cain said. “We didn’t pick each other up until the ball was coming down.”
The Brewers entered the day 11th of 15 National League teams in runs scored.
“The issue right now for me is we’re not scoring enough runs. We have to score more runs,” Counsell said, lamenting prior to the matchup against left-hander Steven Matz. “That would probably be the thing that I would be worried about the most. Not that I’m worried about it — we have some guys who just haven’t started hitting yet.
“We haven’t walked much, haven’t had many extra-base hits. Just, the big inning really has not been there.”
Matz ended an 11-start winless streak dating to June 28 as New York became the first major league team to start 11-1 since the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. Under new manager Mickey Callaway, the Mets are on their longest winning streak since 11 consecutive victories from April 12-23, 2015.
“We expect to win,” said Frazier, who also singled and walked. “Once you expect to win and you truly believe, I think there’s no going wrong.”
Trailing 6-4 in the seventh inning, the Brewers had something cooking thanks to Cain, who, as part of an eventful return to the lineup from missing two games with a minor left quad injury, extended the frame with a two-out single. When Santana followed with another single to left field, Cain decided to try for third. It was the wrong choice, as Yoenis Cespedes made an on-target throw to end the inning with Braun due up next.
“That’s a mistake, for sure,” Counsell said.
An inning later, after Shaw’s homer cut the deficit to one run, Aguilar and pinch hitter Eric Sogard singled as Counsell and Mets counterpart Callaway made a series of moves that led to Bandy batting with two outs against Robert Gsellman.
The pitcher, and the Mets, won the battle.
Jeurys Familia got three straight outs to remain perfect in seven save chances and deal the Brewers their first loss in six one-run games this year.
Frazier homered leading off the second and fourth innings against Davies (0-2). He also singled and walked.
Davies, a 17-game winner last year, needed 64 pitches to get through three innings and gave up five runs and seven hits in 4⅓ innings. He fell behind in the first when Cespedes hit an RBI single.
Davies was missing his usual target behind the plate. Catcher Manny Pina missed his second straight game because of right calf tightness.
Pina said he would test his legs in running drills today before the Brewers make a decision about returning him to the starting lineup.
“I feel much better,” Pina said. “The running is the biggest thing. The squat, blocking, and reaction to throw to second base — everything is fine. Just (hurts) when I start running hard.”
Cain is able
Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain returned after missing two games because of a strained left quadriceps and went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on his 32nd birthday.
He was shaken up when Santana ranged over from right to catch Bruce’s sacrifice fly and collided with him. Cain reached on an infield hit in the seventh — Frazier’s backhand snag at third saved a double — and then was thrown out by Cespedes trying to go from first to third on Santana’s single to left.
After a “more aggressive” round of hitting in the visitors’ batting cage, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich expressed optimism about escaping the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, the first day he’s eligible to return from a right oblique injury.
That’s weather permitting, of course. The forecast for Sunday’s series finale between the Brewers and Mets on Jackie Robinson Day is not looking as promising as Yelich’s health.
“I’m improving every day,” said Yelich, who will take batting practice with the rest of the team on Saturday. “I think we’re back on track for when my little stint is up.”
Cautioned Brewers manager Craig Counsell: “We’re making progress. We’re shooting for as fast as we can. I would say it’s possible for Sunday, but I don’t think we’re ‘for sure’ yet on Sunday.”
Yelich also played catch Friday, but that wasn’t the concern. He was hurt swinging the bat, and the decision last week to abandon hopes of avoiding the DL came after a batting-cage session similar to Friday’s.
This time, he passed the test.
“We’re doing everything that we’re supposed to do,” he said. “I’m more concerned with the hitting. Throwing is more just maintenance, keeping the feel. Hitting was the biggest obstacle to begin with, so that was the biggest concern.
“(Friday’s cage session) was really encouraging. Hopefully I continue to feel well throughout the day today and [Saturday] and keep progressing to where I need to be.”
Right-hander Matt Harvey (0-0, 3.60 ERA) starts for the Mets tonight and right-hander Chase Anderson (0-1, 3.38 ERA) pitches for the Brewers.