MILWAUKEE -- With their best pitcher on the mound and a 7-1 lead, it looked as if the Mets were going to escape Milwaukee with a much-needed win.
Not only was Jacob deGrom rolling through five innings, but manager Terry Collins had his top-three healthy relievers well-rested and available. But with the way the past week has gone for the Mets, the setup was too good to be true.
deGrom hit a wall in the sixth inning and the bullpen imploded; the Brewers scored two runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and five in the eighth to complete a three-game sweep and send the Mets to a stunning 11-9 defeat.
"We had some fresh arms in the bullpen, and you figure those guys had three days' rest and can come in and get us some outs," Collins said. "Bases on balls killed us."
It was the culmination of a difficult stretch for the Mets, which began May 7 with Matt Harvey being issued a three-game team suspension. Then came the news of a blood clot in the right armpit area of closer Jeurys Familia, an ailment that required surgery and will sideline the closer for at least 3-4 months. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera aggravated a thumb injury Saturday, which has his playing status up in the air.
On the field, the Mets blew a ninth-inning lead in a loss to the Giants on Wednesday before coming to Milwaukee and allowing 28 runs in a three-game sweep.
"You get up in the morning around here, and you just don't know what you are going to face," Collins said. "Start with Matt, then we got Jeurys, somebody else, [Asdrubal Cabrera] gets hurt. I'm not making excuses. You got to play over stuff.
"We have a clubhouse full of veterans. They have all been through a game like this, they have all been through a series like this before. You got to rise out of the ashes and get back on the horse."
Although he has performed the best of any Mets starting pitcher, deGrom has not been as sharp or consistent as he had been over the first three years of his career.
deGrom appeared to be in top form Sunday, working around a first-inning run to get through the fifth with a 7-1 lead. But signs of fatigue began to appear in the sixth, when he left a slider out over the plate that Keon Broxton hit for a two-run home run.
"I'm leaving one ball over the middle and it's getting hit out of the ballpark it seems like every game," deGrom said. "It is time to do something about it."
Villar greeted Blevins with his first home run off a left-hander this season to pull the Brewers to within three runs, 8-5. After walking Eric Thames, Blevins gave way to Fernando Salas.
Salas needed 38 pitches to get four outs, allowing an RBI double to Jesus Aguilar in the seventh before exiting with two on in the eighth. Josh Edgin entered and hit Thames with a pitch to load the bases, causing Collins to call on closer Addison Reed for a five-out save.
Reed immediately allowed a two-run single to Hernan Perez, which cut the Mets' lead to 8-7. After striking out Aguilar for the second out, Reed hung a 3-2 slider that Manny Pina hit for a go-ahead three-run home run.
While Mets starting pitchers have struggled to go deep into games, the four relievers Collins went to Sunday were well-rested. Blevins, Salas and Reed all hadn't pitched since Wednesday, while Edgin had Saturday off after throwing 14 pitches Friday.
"It is pretty frustrating," Collins said. "This is the big leagues. Their job is to come in and get outs. When you call upon them, they got to come in and do the job."
The emotion of a difficult week boiled over for the Mets in the ninth inning when Neil Walker was ejected by home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, who then heard from Collins in a heated argument.
"We've done a really good job, even at the end of last year, of rolling with what we have," Walker said. "That's a sign of a pretty good team. Guys are playing different positions and guys are doing different things, but we are competing. That's the most important thing. If it felt like we weren't competing, there would be cause for concern, but I don't get that sense."
Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Mets on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.