MILWAUKEE — Aside from the one stretch at the end of the first half of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have been very good at putting frustrating losses behind them by bouncing back the following day.
Bouncing back is exactly what closer Francisco Rodriguez and the Brewers did Saturday night, responding from a tough loss the night before with a 5-2 victory over the New York Mets at Miller Park.
Wily Peralta battled through 5 2/3 innings to pick up his 12th win of the season, the offense delivered four, two-out RBI hits, while the bullpen struck out eight over 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
"This is definitely a good win," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We had to scratch to get a couple of runs there, and it was nice to add on at the end."
Peralta, who is now tied for the major-league lead with 12 wins, looked like he was in for a short outing after starting out shaky Saturday night. The Mets had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings but were able to score just one run.
After getting a lineout to get out of trouble in the first, Peralta walked hitters with batting averages of .195 (Chris Young) and .036 (pitcher Jonathan Niese) to give Eric Young Jr. a chance to put the Mets in front.
Peralta responded by striking Young Jr. out, but he eventually allowed a run in the third. With Curtis Granderson standing at third base with one out after doubling to start the inning, Lucas Duda dumped a single into center to put the Mets up 1-0.
A wild pitch then put runners at second and third, but Peralta worked out without any further damage. He was at 62 pitches through three innings but was trailing only 1-0.
"This is one I really had to battle and make pitches," Peralta said. "When you have your best, it is easy to go through a lineup. When you don’t have your best and aren’t commanding it very well, you have to make one pitch at a time to keep your team in the ballgame."
Peralta did just that, overcoming the early pitch-count and command issues to work into the sixth inning. Granderson hit a solo home run off Peralta in the fifth, as the right-hander ended up allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
In his second full season in the big leagues, Peralta’s ability to limit the damage when his command is off as much as it was Saturday is seen as an important sign in the right-hander’s development by Roenicke.
"What does he have, 12 wins now? I don’t know how many of them he’s been like this, but he’s got some wins when he’s scuffled to get through lineups," Roenicke said. "He still keeps the run total down and he gives us a chance to win."
Struggling to do much of anything against Niese in the early going, the Brewers broke through in the fifth inning.
Milwaukee’s first run of the game was created thanks to the legs of Jean Segura. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Segura stole second, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch from Niese with two strikes on Carlos Gomez with two outs in the inning.
"That’s exactly what it was," Roenicke said of Segura creating a run. "That’s what I talk about not always depending on the home run to get runs. That was Seggy doing a great job of running the bases. Whenever you are at third base, you don’t ever know what is going to happen to get you that run. That was huge at the time."
Gomez ended up singling and came around to score on a double to center by Jonathan Lucroy. Ryan Braun followed with a single to right scoring Lucroy, and the Brewers suddenly had a 3-2 lead.
Milwaukee was able to add on in the late innings, as a towering solo home run from Mark Reynolds in the sixth and a two-out RBI double from Khris Davis in the eighth allowed for some breathing room. Four of the five runs the Brewers scored came with two outs.
"When you are able to put together runs with two outs, that’s saying a lot about your offense and really battling up there at the plate, not just figuring, ‘Well, there’s two outs, the inning is over and we’ll go on to the next one,’" Roenicke said. "A lot can happen with two outs and it did for us today."
After Zach Duke struck out three of the four batters he faced, Jeremy Jeffress retired David Wright for the final out of the seventh with a runner on first base. Will Smith then struck out the side in the eighth, giving way to Rodriguez.
Wanting another crack at his 30th save of the season after allowing three runs in a blown save Friday, Rodriguez worked around a one-out double from Young Jr. to notch career save No. 334.
"One day this game can put you on top and the next day it can put you in the ground," Rodriguez said. "You have to take it day-by-day and have a short memory.
"It was really comfortable knowing that they are going to stick with me, back you up and continue to play hard. The best way I can pay them back (for Friday night) is putting a zero up the next day, which is what I did."
By responding as a team after a gut-wrenching loss, the Brewers improved to 5-1 on the homestand and maintained a three-game lead in the National League Central over St. Louis. With the Pirates falling in Colorado, Milwaukee leads third-place Pittsburgh by four games in the division.
"That is the top reason why we are in first place," Rodriguez said of the Brewers’ resiliency. "We had a really rough stretch two weeks ago, and we’ve been able to bounce back and have a nice homestand."