Unfortunately for Harvey, his familiar lack of run support also has resurfaced. So Harvey wound up with a no-decision in what became an ugly 2-1 New York Mets win against the Brewers in 11 innings at Miller Park.
Poised to potentially waste a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity for the second time in three innings, the Mets got a break when shortstop Jonathan Villar dropped a soft line drive off the bat of Matt Reynolds with one out that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Brewers potentially had a chance to turn a double play and keep the run from scoring even after dropping the ball, but got confused.
“It’s tough to explain right now,” said Reynolds, who hustled down the first-base line. “I’m still trying to figure out what happened.”
Said manager Terry Collins: "I've seen a lot of Major League Baseball games. That might be one of the wildest I've ever been involved in. ... You just take the win and go get ready for tomorrow. You don't try to analyze that one."
Harvey, nonetheless, has a 0.90 ERA over his past three starts. He had a 6.08 ERA over his opening 10 starts of the season.
Michael Conforto pinch hit for Harvey with two outs in the top of the seventh. Harvey's fate might have been different had Kelly Johnson's would-be homer to lead off that frame not been pulled back by Nieuwenhuis, who recorded his first career robbery with a leaping catch at the center-field wall.
"Matty was really, really good," Collins said. "He just ran out of a little gas. We are certainly on the upside with that. It's good to see. ... Even though he wasn't 97, 98, he threw the fastball up. His slider was good tonight. His changeup, later in the game, got real good. You saw a lot of swings and misses on his changeup. I'll tell you, his confidence is really starting to come back. We're heading into the warm months. And it's nice to know our pitching staff is starting to round into shape."
Said Harvey: "The fastball obviously wasn't coming out as good as it has been the last couple of starts. I pretty much had everything else working and I was able to keep them off-balance and get us through six innings. ... Last start, only striking out two or three, you kind of think, 'What's going on?' Today I was able to put them away when I needed to."
The Mets have scored only two runs for Harvey during his three-start resurgence. That meager support was enough for Harvey to eke out a 1-0 win against the Chicago White Sox on May 30. But Harvey then lost to Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins by that same score last weekend.
For the first time this season, Harvey failed to earn a win in consecutive starts in giving up one run or fewer and logging at least six innings in each outing. That fate happened to him in back-to-back starts on four different occasions a year ago, when Harvey returned from Tommy John surgery with a vengeance.
Harvey frequently has received meager support during his career. He is now 15-5 with 16 no-decisions in starts giving up one run or fewer.
Even with Harvey missing a full season, his 21 non-wins in starts surrendering no more than one run are tied for third most in the majors since the beginning of the 2012 season. Only Felix Hernandez (23) and Zack Greinke (22) have more. Jeff Samardzija also has 21.
More damning, Harvey is 4-5 with 11 no-decisions in his career in the starts in which he has given up one run.
The 1-0 loss to Fernandez could be forgiven, given the ace's recent dominance. But failing to muster anything beyond a Yoenis Cespedes solo homer in a game started by Milwaukee right-hander Junior Guerra? That has to be considered an indictment of the Mets, who don't manufacture runs when their shots don't clear the fence.
Cespedes, who noted he was not Superman while in the midst of a 3-for-35 slump earlier in the week, went deep for the first time since May 23. He is waking up, with seven hits in his past three games.
However, the Mets had letdowns at critical moments while twice threatening earlier.
Alejandro De Aza grounded out to leave the bases loaded in the fifth. And Johnson had a baserunning gaffe two innings earlier.
Collins had resolved this week to get De Aza more playing time to try to jump-start the offense, and to keep his regular starters fresher so they could more capably produce when in the lineup. De Aza started in left field over Conforto on Friday and finished 0-for-5. It marked the first time this season that Conforto was not in the starting lineup against a right-handed pitcher.
Meanwhile, after doubling in the third, Johnson lackadaisically retreated to second base on Harvey's grounder up the middle. He ran into the tag by Villar, who threw on to first base to retire Harvey and complete an inning-ending double play.
"I think the statement I heard on the bench was, 'Well, I can't ever say I didn't see that,'" Collins said with a laugh.
Johnson got the start with Walker getting a day off to recuperate. Walker had been struck in the chest with a sharply-hit grounder off the bat of Hernan Perez in the series opener. He pinch hit in the ill-fated ninth inning.
Medical attention: Ex-Brewer Jim Henderson walked the leadoff batter of the 10th in his second inning of work. One pitch into the next at-bat, Henderson departed because of a fingernail tore off.
What's next: Logan Verrett makes his fourth spot start of the season. Verrett (3-3, 3.22 ERA) opposes right-hander Wily Peralta (3-7, 6.79) on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET. The Mets require a spot starter because Monday's rainout in Pittsburgh pushed Steven Matz to a Tuesday doubleheader with Jacob deGrom at PNC Park. The Mets wanted neither pitcher working on short rest.