NEW YORK (AP) — Long after Carlos Beltran left with pain in his troublesome knee, light-hitting rookie Ruben Tejada provided a pleasant surprise for the New York Mets.
Tejada laced a two-run double in the ninth inning off closer John Axford, rallying New York to a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
“I feel great,” Tejada said. “It’s a great experience for me this year. I’m learning a lot.”
David Wright had a two-run homer and the Mets opened their final homestand of the season with their third consecutive win.
Corey Hart homered for Milwaukee and Randy Wolf pitched seven strong innings. Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double.
Axford (8-2) struck out Wright to escape an eighth-inning jam, but Ike Davis opened the ninth with a double off the base of the right-center fence.
Josh Thole blooped a one-out single that put runners at the corners and Tejada drove the next pitch up the left-center alley for his third hit — and second double — of the game.
“I think he’s made some adjustments at the plate and they’re starting to pay off. It’s exciting to see,” Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey said. “Not only did he get three hits, but he drove some of those balls with authority.”
Pinch-runner Luis Castillo scored from first with a headfirst slide and the Mets rushed toward second base to mob Tejada, who raised his batting average from .199 to .210.
Elmer Dessens (4-2) worked a perfect ninth. New York had been 0-67 when trailing after eight innings.
“I got beat by leaving fastballs up,” Axford said.
Beltran was removed in the sixth because of pain in his right knee, the same one that was operated on in January, forcing him to miss the first half of the season.
The star center fielder will have tests Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and the Mets will keep their fingers crossed about Beltran’s prospects for a healthy 2011 season.
“Honestly, in my heart, I don’t feel like I have to worry,” Beltran said. “I feel something. I don’t know what it is. But you know, after being back and being able to play all these games, I didn’t feel anything until today. So let’s see what happens.”
One night after the teams were rained out, they played without interruption following a dreary afternoon that included tornado warnings in the area.
With the score tied at 2, late substitute Joe Inglett hit a leadoff double in the eighth against Pelfrey and advanced to third on Hart’s groundout to the right side.
Pedro Feliciano entered to face slugger Prince Fielder, who chopped an RBI grounder to shortstop against a drawn-in infield that left Jose Reyes with only one play, at first base.
The husky Fielder also made a dynamic, diving grab of Pelfrey’s foul bunt in the third. Thole made a similar play on Wolf’s foul bunt in the fifth.
Wolf allowed four hits and struck out four, shutting down the Mets yet again. He is 12-5 in 32 starts against New York, including 6-0 in his past 10.
The left-hander nearly became the first starting pitcher to beat the Mets for five teams. He’s done it with Philadelphia, San Diego, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Put that one in the tough loss column,” Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said. “We got beat by the bottom of their order.”
Lucas Duda, batting in Beltran’s No. 3 spot, fisted a soft single over second baseman Rickie Weeks with two outs in the sixth and Wright followed with his 27th homer, tying it at 2.
Casey McGehee drew a two-out walk in the fourth and scored easily from first when Cain doubled to deep left-center. Hart homered to center on Pelfrey’s first pitch in the sixth, his 31st of the season.
Jesus Feliciano kept the game scoreless in the third, throwing out George Kottaras at the plate on Inglett’s two-out single to right.
The teams will play a twi-night doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 4:10 p.m.
NOTES: Brewers LF Ryan Braun was scratched minutes before the first pitch because of a stomach virus. He was replaced by Inglett, who batted second. Hart dropped from the second spot to No. 3. … Milwaukee 3B prospect Mat Gamel will have season-ending surgery Wednesday on his left big toe. … Mets OF Angel Pagan was not with the team because his daughter was scheduled to have eye surgery early Wednesday. Pagan is expected back for Wednesday’s doubleheader. … It was Pedro Feliciano’s 89th appearance, breaking his own club record set last season. … New York pitching coach Dan Warthen left the club to attend his brother’s funeral in Florida. He is expected back Thursday.