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Mets bullpen caves in 13th after lengthy duel

Niese racks up eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 strong innings

NEW YORK -- A quiet, somber and dejected Mets clubhouse became the epilogue to a long, chilly and ultimately agonizing Thursday night at Citi Field.

The Mets entered a home series with the Brewers hoping to shake off a six-game losing streak and fatigue that had plagued them in Chicago and San Francisco the week before. Instead, the Mets found more of the same sputtering offense. A frustrating 13-inning 5-1 loss to Milwaukee dropped the Mets to a season-low eight games below .500.

Lefty Jon Niese allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings of solid foundation without reward. This time, the culprit was reliever Carlos Torres, who in his second inning of work saw Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy clobber a curveball just inside the left-field foul pole, scoring Ryan Braun to break the 1-1 stalemate.

"It is frustrating. You want to win all of them," said Niese, who struck out a season-high eight. "But I guess that's just the way it goes. That's part of the game, and as starters we just try to keep the team in the game, give them a chance to win, give them a chance to get that big hit. It's frustrating that we can't pull it off."

The Brewers plated two more on a single from Mark Reynolds and a hit-by-pitch to Rickie Weeks with the bases loaded. Milwaukee relievers Will Smith, Brandon Kintzler, Zach Duke and Francisco Rodriguez combined on five scoreless innings in relief of a superb Kyle Lohse, who went eight strong.

The loss also stung because of the chance the Mets squandered in the 11th. New York left the bases full when Chris Young grounded into a fielder's choice and catcher Anthony Recker struck out looking. He was quickly ejected after arguing the pitch's location.

"We don't get blown out by anybody," said manager Terry Collins. "I don't care where it is, I don't care who we play. We just haven't been able to come up with a hit when we needed a hit.

"This is a game where you've got to step up. This is what it's about at this level. You've got to step up, you've got to make adjustments. We don't feel sorry for ourselves."

The loss wasted another fine outing from Niese, who scattered just six hits and one walk over 97 pitches. Collins lifted his starter when he let up a two-out base hit to Carlos Gomez, not wanting Niese to face Aramis Ramirez, who had previously homered. Jeurys Familia induced a groundout and followed with a scoreless ninth.

"I felt I could've kept going," said Niese. "Ramirez is a tough out for me, but I felt I could definitely dig down and get that last one."

The bullpen combination of Familia, Josh Edgin, Jenrry Mejia and Gonzalez Germen kept Milwaukee silent. But it was Torres who eventually faltered.

"We don't have anybody in the bullpen, we used everybody," said Torres, who was tagged for seven hits and four runs. "It's my job to go back out there and I went back out there."

The Mets' first run came from Daniel Murphy -- hitting leadoff for the first time this season -- when he lined a sinker to center field that Gomez misplayed, allowing Murphy to coast into third. Bobby Abreu took Lohse's next pitch to deep left, tying the game with the easy sacrifice fly.

The Brewers plated their first run when Ramirez sent a Niese fastball beyond the left-center-field wall to open the scoring in the second inning. Niese would allow at least one baserunner in each of the next six innings but made sure nothing materialized. The game stayed tied for another eight innings.

"We had our opportunities," said David Wright, whose only hit turned into an out after he was tagged trying to reach second base. "Niese once again goes out there and pitched a great game, not even good, just great."

In the end it was a familiar tune for the Mets, whose answers after the loss felt more like shrugs. Adding injury to insult on an exasperating night was the status of Mejia, who threw a scoreless two-thirds of an inning but was lifted before pitching in the 11th due to back stiffness.

"Trust me, the effort level is there, now it's just execution," said Wright. "We've got to get more runners in scoring position so we have more opportunities to come through, [where] we're just not putting all of our eggs in one basket, waiting for one situation to break open.

"I take it tough. Trust me, I'm as hard on myself as anybody can be."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for
Read More: New York Mets, Daniel Murphy, Carlos Torres, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Abreu, Jon Niese