NEW YORK (AP) — By the end of his team’s latest deflating loss, Carlos Torres was punching himself in the head.
It’s been that kind of month for the New York Mets and their anemic offense.
Jonathan Lucroy hit a tiebreaking homer off Torres in a four-run 13th inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers outlasted the Mets 5-1 on Thursday night after an unusual rain delay that lasted all of 3 minutes.
“We had our opportunities,” struggling Mets star David Wright said. “We have to do a better job.”
The slumping Mets stranded seven runners from the ninth through the 11th and blew a bases-loaded opportunity with a chance to win. They lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell a season-worst eight games under .500 at 29-37.
Minus ailing cleanup hitter Curtis Granderson, the Mets wasted another strong outing by Jonathon Niese and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They are batting .169 in those situations over the past 22 games.
And to make matters worse, closer Jenrry Mejia left the game with a stiff back.
Mejia said he told bullpen coach Ricky Bones about the tightness he felt before entering the game. The right-hander got two outs in the 10th and went back out for the 11th, but his back flared up as he was throwing warmup pitches.
“I wanted to go out there. That’s what I told him: `I want to go out there and pitch,'” Mejia said. “A little bit of pain. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow. I hope I feel better.”
Moments after Mejia came out, a sudden downpour halted play. Fans scurried for cover as umpires consulted the grounds crew – and the radar on a smartphone – near third base.
Players stayed in the dugout waiting for word and when the rain lightened to a drizzle, the game quickly resumed.
“That was weird. I thought they were going to pull the tarp and bang it and have like a one-inning playoff next time when they come to our place,” Lucroy said with a laugh. “Crazy night. Glad we could win and get out of here on a good note.”
Aramis Ramirez homered in the second inning and finished with three hits, helping the NL Central leaders take two of three in the series. Milwaukee (40-27) matched its season high at 13 games above .500.
New York took advantage of an error by Gold Glove center fielder Carlos Gomez to tie it in the fourth before Niese and Kyle Lohse settled into a crisp pitchers’ duel.
Ryan Braun opened the 13th with an infield single off Torres (2-4). Lucroy, who was hitless in five at-bats after beginning the night with a .341 batting average, drove a hanging curve to left field for his fifth home run.
“Believe me, I was trying to do it earlier than that,” Lucroy said. “Sorry.”
Mark Reynolds added an RBI single and Rickie Weeks was hit by Dana Eveland’s pitch with the bases loaded.
Back in the dugout, a frustrated Torres wiped his face with a towel and punched himself repeatedly on both sides of the head.
Zach Duke (4-0) tossed a perfect inning and Francisco Rodriguez finished in a non-save situation.
Brewers reliever Brandon Kintzler escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th with the help of a five-man infield. Wilmer Flores grounded into a force at the plate before Anthony Recker struck out looking.
Incensed by the call, Recker argued and was quickly ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez.
“You can’t get thrown out there,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I understand his frustration and everything else, but he’s got to know there’s nobody left on that bench except one guy.”
Lohse, who struggled in three previous starts at Citi Field, held the Mets to an unearned run in eight economical innings.
Niese, meanwhile, gave New York another steady outing with nothing to show for it.
The left-hander struck out a season-high eight in 7 2-3 innings. He has a 2.22 ERA over 28 1-3 innings in his last four games, all no-decisions.
“I felt really good,” Niese said. “I knew this is a tough-hitting team against lefties, so I kind of had to go away from how I normally pitch. I used my changeup a lot more.”
Daniel Murphy lined a leadoff single in the fourth. The ball skipped past an indecisive Gomez, allowing Murphy to reach third on the two-base error. He scored easily on Bobby Abreu’s sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Wright is mired in a 2-for-31 slide. … Granderson did not start due to a sore left calf. He hopes to be back in the lineup Friday night against San Diego. … Niese has not allowed more than three earned runs in his past 17 starts dating to last year – the longest active streak in the majors. … Milwaukee is 13-6 at Citi Field, the best winning percentage at the ballpark. … Ruben Tejada had made seven straight starts at shortstop for New York before Flores got the nod Thursday. … Murphy batted leadoff for the first time since May 26, 2013, according to STATS.