"Not a good way to start September," said Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was regretting a pair of mistakes on Tuesday. His throwing error contributed an unearned run in the Mets' three-run third inning, and he was thrown out at home plate in the fourth after what Hardy called a poor turn at third base.
"But I think we're all right," Hardy said. "I don't think anyone is panicking. We're still in a good situation, and we know we're a good team."
They did not look particularly good at some key moments on Tuesday. Hardy's low throw came two batters before Carlos Beltran ripped a three-run home run, and catcher Jason Kendall committed another error in the decisive 10th, just before Endy Chavez lifted a go-ahead sacrifice fly for New York's 19th win in 26 games.
The Brewers also missed an opportunity for a big first inning against Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese, who was making his Major League debut. Rickie Weeks led off with a home run -- the first of his four hits, matching a career high -- and Hardy and Ryan Braun followed with walks.
Niese escaped. First baseman Prince Fielder grounded out on the way to an 0-for-4 night, and Corey Hart and Mike Cameron struck out, two of nine Brewers whiffs in the game. Milwaukee players have struck out 24 times in the series.
"You can't leave runs like that out there, because they're going to come back and haunt you, especially when you're in a pennant race," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "We have to be a little more adept at putting the ball in play in those situations."
The Mets jumped to a 5-1 lead by the end of the third inning against Brewers starter Manny Parra. Fernando Tatis and Damion Easley drove in a run apiece in the second inning against Parra, and Beltran hit on a hanging split-fingered pitch for a three-run home run with one out in the third.
Parra worked through the fifth inning and was charged with five runs, but only four were earned because of Hardy's third-inning error. Hardy fielded Nick Evans' grounder and bounced the throw to first baseman Prince Fielder, who couldn't scoop it.
"Any time I make an error, it drives me crazy," Hardy said. "I beat myself up. I don't care if it's this game or a game early in the season that doesn't have quite this atmosphere. I still beat myself up."
Parra was doing the same.
"In my opinion, it was another subpar performance," said Parra, who won eight straight decisions from May 20-July 20 but has one win in eight starts since. "I'm catching too much plate. Five innings is just not going to cut it."
Parra did contribute to the comeback in the fourth, when the Brewers rallied for five consecutive hits against Niese to start the inning. Parra hit a two-run double, and Hardy singled to bring the Brewers within one and chase the left-hander from the game, and two batters later, Corey Hart blooped a single over the shortstop that tied the game at 5.
Yost at first thought Hart's hit would give the Brewers a lead. But after a wide turn at third base, Hardy was out at home on the play, courtesy of Beltran's one-hop throw.
"I didn't think there was any chance of throwing J.J. out at the plate," Yost said. "That's the play that won the game for them, because that game is over in nine innings if J.J. scores on that ball."
Instead, six Mets relievers combined for seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits. Joe Smith (3-3) picked up the win after recording the final out of the ninth inning, and Luis Ayala earned his fifth save in the 10th.
The Brewers threatened against Ayala, who was pitching for the Washington Nationals when he surrendered a 13th-inning home run to Gabe Kapler at Miller Park on Aug. 10 for a 5-4 Brewers win. This time, pinch-hitter Brad Nelson doubled with two outs for his first Major League hit and Kapler walked to bring up Weeks, who was shooting for the first five-hit game of his career. Weeks yanked a sharp grounder that went just foul before striking out to end the game.
"I was sure off the bat that it was [fair]," Weeks said. "At the last second, it wasn't."
The Brewers' relievers were strong behind Parra. Guillermo Mota delivered two hitless innings for his 12th consecutive scoreless outing, Eric Gagne redeemed himself with a scoreless eighth inning after taking the loss Monday and Salomon Torres (6-4) worked a 1-2-3 ninth.
Torres was back out for the top of the 10th, when pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy led off with a single. Jose Reyes followed with a sacrifice bunt fielded by Kendall, whose throw to first base drew a covering Weeks into the runner. Murphy moved to third when the ball got away, and he scored the winning run when Chavez lifted a fly ball to right field.
"That's a really, really tough play," Yost said of the Reyes bunt. "The throw was coming across the bag, and Reyes is one of the fastest guys in the league. That's why Jason had to hurry his throw. If the throw is on the fair side of the bag, Rickie catches it, easy."
Weeks wasn't sure whether Reyes' shoulder brushed his glove.
"Honestly, it happened so fast that I just tried to stick my glove out," Weeks said.