Brewers waste Estrada's gem, drop finale to Mets
By: By Mike Fitzpatrick, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
NEW YORK — Marco Estrada had the Milwaukee Brewers headed to an uplifting finish until everything unraveled in an ugly eighth inning.
"My gosh, not the way you want to end a season," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Eric Young Jr. won the National League stolen base crown with 46 and helped the New York Mets rally past Milwaukee 3-2 on Sunday when the Brewers botched two bunt plays.
Estrada allowed two hits in seven sharp innings for the Brewers, who finished 74-88 for fourth place in the NL Central. They had won four games in a row and 12 of 17.
"Marco threw the ball outstanding today. He pitched well enough to earn a shutout," Roenicke said. "When he's on like that, he can really go through lineups."
Estrada struck out eight and walked none. Milwaukee starters compiled a 2.94 ERA in September.
"My first half wasn't the greatest. To come back and stay healthy and finish strong, hopefully I showed them enough," Estrada said. "The second half was amazing. I think we showed everyone in here what we can do."
The speedy Young swiped two bases in the first, scored on a shallow sacrifice fly and later threw out a runner at the plate from left field. He began the day tied for the NL lead in steals with Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura, who sat out for the 10th time in 11 games.
Segura returned Saturday from a strained right hamstring, but he and the Brewers didn't want to gamble in the season finale, Roenicke said.
"I was told that he wasn't playing before the game. I knew yesterday he was trying to push it down the line a little bit and wasn't running too well," Young said. "You never wish injury on anybody, especially going into the offseason."
Young's father led the NL in stolen bases with 53 for the Rockies in 1996.
"Now after it's all said and done, it's a great feeling that I was able to do it," said Young, acquired from Colorado in June. "I'm proud of myself. That's my craft, stolen bases, and you always pride yourself in what your craft is."
Playing in front of their third sellout crowd this season, the injury-riddled Mets prevented a four-game sweep by Milwaukee and finished 74-88 for the second consecutive year. They have endured five straight losing seasons since moving into Citi Field.
New York did make a bit of progress with a third-place finish in the NL East, its highest since second in 2008. The Mets had come in fourth for four consecutive years.
Before the game, former slugger Mike Piazza was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame during a 30-minute ceremony on the field.
Young and rookie center fielder Juan Lagares each cut down a Brewers runner at the plate in the fourth to help starter Jonathon Niese escape further damage.
Milwaukee scored twice on five singles and a walk in the fourth, then carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth. Lagares reached on a throwing error by shortstop Jeff Bianchi, and Juan Centeno dropped down a bunt in front of home plate.
Second baseman Scooter Gennett was late covering first and bumped into umpire CB Bucknor while trying to navigate his way toward the bag. The low throw from catcher Jonathan Lucroy skipped up the right field line for an error that allowed Lagares to score all the way from first.
Wilfredo Tovar sacrificed and reached safely when first baseman Sean Halton made an ill-advised throw to third. Pinch-runner Matt den Dekker beat the play, putting runners at the corners.
"No chance at third," Roenicke said. "That's a judgment call, a call a player has to make. But when you're going to throw to a base to get a tag play, you better be absolutely sure you're going to get him."
One out later, Young drove in the go-ahead run with a dribbler to reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-3).
Vic Black (3-0) pitched a hitless inning for the win. Frank Francisco struck out two of three batters in the ninth for his first save since Sept. 1 last year.
NOTES: Milwaukee CF Carlos Gomez stole a base to become the first Brewers player with 20 homers and 40 steals in one season. ... Young scored on David Wright's short sacrifice fly in the first inning after stealing second and third. ... New York went 2 for 32 (.063) with runners in scoring position during the series.