Crew subdued by walk-off HR in rubber game
Albers serves up two-out jack in 9th to Mets hero Flores
NEW YORK -- The Brewers arrived at Citi Field with a perfect record in one-run games and limped home after a pair of one-run losses. "Limped" being the operative word, considering they shivered through Sunday's 3-2 walk-off loss to the Mets with a depleted bench further strained by Eric Thames' early exit with a groin injury.
The decisive blow came from Wilmer Flores, who famously shed tears at shortstop on the night he thought he'd been traded to the Brewers in 2015. He beat his almost-team with a home run off Matt Albers with two out in the ninth to settle the rubber game of the series.
After winning their first five one-run games, a pair of one-run losses to the 12-2 Mets handed the Brewers their first road series defeat in three tries. Milwaukee is 8-8 heading into a week-long homestand against the last-place Reds and Marlins.
"It seems we play a close game every night," said Albers, who was a strike away from forcing extra innings when Flores connected. "I think we're OK with it. We feed off that energy."
Albers had retired Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier to open the ninth before putting Flores in an 0-2 count. After just missing the strike zone with a sinker, Albers came back with another, but he left it up in the zone, and Flores hit it into the seats in left-center field.
Flores is the Mets' Mr. Walk-off. He has won seven games with walk-off RBIs, including three home runs.
Did he head to the plate thinking "homer?"
"Yeah, definitely," Flores said. "I knew when [Albers] tries to go away, he can leave the ball over the middle."
The Brewers made Noah Syndergaard work during a 29-pitch first inning highlighted by Lorenzo Cain's 10-pitch walk, but the Mets ace was sharp after that. He struck out eight consecutive batters during one dominant stretch from the second inning through the fourth before Hernan Perez's single leading off the fifth gave Milwaukee its first hit.
An inning later, Perez also gave the Brewers their first lead, when he hit a grounder to shortstop that produced Amed Rosario's two-run error. The advantage was short-lived, as Brandon Nimmo homered off Brewers reliever Taylor Williams four pitches into the bottom of the inning. Nimmo finished a double shy of the cycle.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who had just been ejected in the top of the fifth inning, expressed surprise that Nimmo's homer -- that any baseball, really -- carried through the cold. As the Mets prepared to hit in the bottom of the ninth, manager Mickey Callaway said he was thinking, "Win it and we get to get warm."
In other words, it was not the type of day one wanted to tangle with Syndergaard.
"Good luck," Brewers cleanup hitter Travis Shaw said. "Freakin' wiffle balls at 98 miles an hour. [And] his changeup's disgusting."
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin remained winless and without a quality start after four outings. He needed 85 pitches for four innings, and allowed a run on five hits and three walks. Nimmo scored the run in the first inning after reaching on an infield single that glanced off Chacin's glove.
"I know I can throw better and get deep into the game," Chacin said. "Always, for some reason, April is tough for me. I don't know why. I'm trying to keep working and trying to get better. I think my slider was good today, and I threw more today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First chance: There was a lot going on as the Brewers mounted their first threat in the fifth inning, but the moment that mattered was Chacin being left in to bat against Syndergaard with a runner at third and two out in a 1-0 game. He grounded out on a sensational play by Rosario, then yielded to reliever Williams in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Braun, who exited Saturday's game with back tightness and did not start on Sunday, had been on deck for Chacin's spot, but he retreated to the dugout just as Counsell was ejected for arguing a called third strike against Jett Bandy.
"Ryan was going to hit if we got into what I thought was a better offensive [situation] -- man on third, less than two outs, or if we had first and third there," Counsell said. "At that point, you're planning on, 'Is something different going to come up later in the game?' and protecting yourself later in the game." More >
For the lead: The Brewers finally broke through in the sixth after Jesus Aguilar, Thames' replacement, hit a one-out single to chase Syndergaard in favor of reliever Robert Gsellman. Cain walked and Domingo Santana loaded the bases with a two-out single. Perez followed with a grounder to the hole at shortstop, and this time Rosario couldn't make the play. It was ruled a straight error after Rosario made a sliding stop and bounced his throw past Flores at first as two Brewers runs scored for a brief 2-1 lead.
The 42-degree temperature at first pitch was fitting for Jackie Robinson Day. Players from all teams wore Robinson's No. 42 as a tribute to the man who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier 71 years ago on Sunday. More >
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Perez had some fun with the Mets' faithful throughout the game, jawing with fans in the left-field seats and teaming with shortstop Orlando Arcia on a Joey Votto-style deke after Perez caught the final out of the third near the foul line. He faked like he was going to toss the ball into the stands before flipping it to Arcia instead, and Arcia did the same. Fans appropriately booed both players as they laughed their way to the dugout. More >
"It was all in fun," Perez said.
The Brewers hope to get Christian Yelich (oblique), Braun (back) and Manny Pina (calf) back from injuries at some point during a seven-game homestand that begins at 6:40 p.m. CT on Monday, when left-hander Brent Suter starts against Reds righty Luis Castillo in the opener of a three-game set at Miller Park.