NEW YORK (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers had plenty of opportunities against a 41-year-old starter and a struggling closer. The defending NL Central champs just can't seem to get that big hit right now.
Miguel Batista pitched seven shutout innings of four-hit ball and Daniel Murphy supplied the offense, sending the surprising New York Mets to a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee on Monday night.
Given a vote of confidence by manager Terry Collins before the game, Frank Francisco bounced back from a pair of rough outings to earn his ninth save. Murphy extended his recent tear at the plate by hitting an RBI single and scoring on a suicide squeeze — a play the Brewers failed to execute earlier.
"We get guys in scoring position and we're not taking the at-bats that I know we can," manager Ron Roenicke said. "The big chances were early when we didn't score."
Batista, replacing injured Mike Pelfrey in the rotation, fought through a tight groin and outpitched Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (2-4), who matched his career high with six walks in six shaky innings.
"It was one of those days where I felt too good," Gallardo said. "I was overthrowing the curveball a little bit. I was trying to do too much with it instead of letting it do the things that it does on its own."
Making his third start of the season, Batista (1-1) struck out five and walked one. He escaped a second-inning jam and retired 10 straight during one stretch.
Milwaukee gave up only three hits but finished 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
"We had a chance the first two innings and let him off the hook. He got comfortable and started making pitches," Roenicke said.
Third baseman David Wright made a diving play to prevent the Brewers from getting started in the eighth.
Francisco came on in the ninth with an 8.56 ERA and was booed after giving up Corey Hart's run-scoring single. But with two on and Jon Rauch warming in the bullpen, Francisco threw a called third strike past hitless Brooks Conrad (0 for 15 this season) and retired pinch-hitter George Kottaras on a fly ball to end it.
"He wanted to be in there bad tonight, so I thought I should give him the opportunity," Collins said. "I thought he made some better pitches today. He's still got to get his secondary pitches in the strike zone."
Francisco blew a save Friday night in Miami and had a major meltdown Sunday, when he was pulled by Collins and ejected by plate umpire Todd Tichenor as the Marlins rallied in the ninth.
Collins said after the game he'd wait a day to address whether a closer change was coming. But on Monday, the manager said he was sticking with Francisco — for now.
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