Beltran homers, Mets 'pen solid in win over Brewers in 10

MILWAUKEE -- Now that major league rosters have expanded, the New York Mets have a bunch of new arms in their suspect bullpen.

It appears they plan to use 'em, too.

Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer, Endy Chavez drove in the decisive run in the 10th inning and New York beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Tuesday night thanks to a stellar effort from its much-maligned bullpen.

Six relievers combined for seven shutout innings, helping the NL East leaders remain two games ahead of second-place Philadelphia. The Mets improved to 5-2 on their eight-game road trip against playoff contenders, winning for the 16th time in 21 games overall.

"When you have a number of pitchers like we have, and we have put most of them in somewhat stressful situations, you're not afraid now to call them in those times," manager Jerry Manuel said. "And you figure if you keep them short, keep them having some success, then the next time they go out there, they feel very confident about themselves. That's the plan. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn't."

Milwaukee's wild-card lead was cut to 4 1/2 games over the Phillies.

Still missing injured closer Billy Wagner, New York goes for a three-game sweep Wednesday in this potential postseason preview.

"We just have to keep playing good baseball down the stretch and put ourselves into position to win games, and we'll win our share," Manuel said.

Pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy opened the 10th with a single off Salomon Torres (6-4) and went to third when catcher Jason Kendall made a throwing error on Jose Reyes' sacrifice bunt.

"It was a really, really tough play," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "Reyes is one of the fastest players in the league, so Kendall had to rush the throw. And it's one of the toughest plays for a second baseman to make covering first. Kendall had to hurry and he just threw it on the foul side of the base."

Murphy scored easily on Chavez's sacrifice fly to right.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen," Chavez said.

Joe Smith (3-3) got the final out in the ninth and Luis Ayala pitched the 10th for his fifth save in six opportunities since coming to the Mets in a trade with Washington.

Ayala gave up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Brad Nelson, his first major league hit, and walked pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler before striking out Weeks.

"[The bullpen] came out and pitched the ball well," said Weeks, who matched a career high with four hits. "You've got to tip your cap to them."

New York lefty Jonathon Niese lasted three-plus innings in his big league debut. The 21-year-old Niese, starting in place of injured John Maine, gave up five earned runs and seven hits to go with four walks and two strikeouts.

"It's the first one," Manuel said. "You almost have to kind of throw that one out for him. You have to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was obviously a tremendous experience for him. The fact that we end up winning the game is the most important thing."

Weeks hit Niese's second pitch for a home run to left. Niese then walked the next two batters but got out of the inning by stranding runners at second and third.

New York took a 2-1 lead in the second on a run-scoring double by Fernando Tatis and an RBI groundout by Damion Easley.

Beltran, who left Monday's game in the eighth with a bruised knee, gave the Mets a 5-1 lead with his 22nd homer in the third. New York has homered in 13 straight games.

Milwaukee tied the score at 5 in the fourth after Niese gave up hits to the first five batters.

Brewers starter Manny Parra hit a two-run double and J.J. Hardy drove in a run with a single that ended Niese's night. Nelson Figueroa struck out Ryan Braun but walked Prince Fielder before Corey Hart tied the game with a single. Hardy, however, was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw from Beltran in center.

Parra tossed five-plus innings, giving up five runs -- four earned -- and six hits. He struck out six but has just one win in his last eight starts.

Game notes
Niese was a seventh-round draft pick in 2005. ... Milwaukee RHP Ben Sheets is expected to make his next start Saturday against San Diego. He left Monday's game after five innings with tightness in his groin. ... Beltran has five homers in his last nine games. ... The Brewers' streak of 22 consecutive sellouts, a franchise record, came to an end. ... The Mets have not committed an error in 35 of their last 40 games.