NEW YORK -- As the sixth inning unfolded Tuesday at Citi Field, Mets manager Terry Collins stood in the dugout wondering if this would be the night his team might finally shrug away its issues with the bases loaded. The Mets entered the game ranked 26th in baseball with a .159 batting average with the bases loaded.
"Just add on runs," Collins recalled thinking to himself. "Just add on runs."
Moments later, the Mets did that and then some. Taylor Teagarden's grand slam lifted his team to a 6-2 win over the Brewers, snapping the Mets' six-game losing streak and allowing them -- for a night, at least -- to exhale at Citi Field.
"That was just a huge hit for us in all phases," Collins said.
It helped that Brewers starting pitcher Marco Estrada did not have his best control, allowing the Mets to load the bases in the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit. That brought up Teagarden, who earned a big league promotion after the Mets optioned struggling catcher Travis d'Arnaud to Triple-A Las Vegas last weekend. Despite striking out in each of his first two at-bats, Teagarden hit an opposite-field line drive off Estrada that bounced off the top of the wall and into the stands for a game-breaking grand slam.
Spending most of his afternoon simply trying to get acquainted with Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, Teagarden did his best to adjust to Estrada from at-bat to at-bat. Though the Brewers pitcher relied largely on offspeed pitches in Teagarden's first two at-bats, he tried to sneak a fastball by him in the third.
Estrada elevated the pitch, Teagarden mashed it and the Mets were no longer starved for a big hit with the bases full.
"If I can help get the monkey off the back," Teagarden said, "whatever it takes."
Daniel Murphy had already contributed a line-drive two-run homer to a similar spot in the third inning, increasing the total damage against Estrada to six runs in six innings.
Compare that to Matsuzaka, who rebounded from his control issues last week in Chicago to contribute six innings of one-run ball. Though Matsuzaka did walk three batters, he did nearly everything else well, allowing just three hits and striking out five. Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia combined on the final nine outs for the Mets, the only blemish coming on Carlos Gomez's RBI double off Familia in the eighth.
"He throws a lot of pitches," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Matsuzaka. "He throws his fastball, which he keeps down in the zone, he throws a cutter off and out, but he's got a good curveball, slider and he's got a changeup, too. He throws a little of everything at you, keeps you off-balance. Which he did."
Matsuzaka would have pitched deeper into the game had Gomez not lined a ball off the back of his right leg leading off the sixth. Though Matsuzaka recovered in time to throw out Gomez and finish the inning at 100 pitches, Collins removed him afterward as a precaution.
"Pitch-count-wise, I think I would have been able to go into the next inning fine," Matsuzaka said immediately after the game. "Right now it's not too bad, but it should start swelling up by tomorrow."
For the Mets, no pain could hurt too badly after a win. They were starved for this one, having lost six in a row at the tail end of a nightmare 11-game trip through Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.
Compounding those struggles was their inability to hit with men on base, with men in scoring position and particularly with the bases loaded -- an area that usually results in sky-high batting averages for teams due to the nature of those situations.
d'Arnaud had been 0-for-5 with the bases full, though he was hardly alone entering Thursday's play. Lucas Duda was 0-for-8. Eric Young and Chris Young were a combined 0-for-9. Even David Wright was 0-for-2.
Teagarden said his Mets teammates informed him of the endemic only after his grand slam left the yard. They laughed about it because they could -- a little gallows humor on a remarkably pleasant night for the Mets.
"He hasn't been here," Collins said of Teagarden, laughing. "He didn't know you're not supposed to get a hit."