By the time the two-run home run by the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy landed in the nearly empty leftfield seats in the 13th inning, there weren't enough fans remaining at Citi Field to boo. Instead, the sound of emptiness spoke volumes about the state of the Mets.

The long night with a frustrating finish continued a troubling theme. The Mets' 5-1 loss Thursday night marked their eighth defeat in nine games, and again featured too many missed opportunities on offense, with an irritated starting pitcher and an injured reliever to boot. It also dropped them into a virtual tie with the Phillies for last place in the NL East.

Consider that on this night:

Jon Niese, who gave up one run in 72/3 innings, was caught by SNY cameras voicing an expletive when Terry Collins came out of the dugout to take him out.

Closer Jenrry Mejia left the game at the start of the 11th because of what the team described as back stiffness. Mejia said he felt back tightness in the bullpen and told bullpen coach Ricky Bones but wanted to pitch because the Mets were running low on relievers.

The struggling Mets hitters, presented several late chances to win the game, failed by leaving seven runners on base in the ninth, 10th and 11th.

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When Carlos Torres took the mound for the 12th, he represented the 20th player used from the Mets' 25-man roster.

By then there also had been a three-minute rain delay, an ejection of Anthony Recker for arguing a called third strike and a five-man infield used by the Brewers when the Mets loaded the bases with one out in the 11th.

When it went downhill for the Mets, it fell apart in typically bizarre fashion.

In the 13th, Torres' second inning, he gave up five hits and a walk without recording an out, including the two-run shot by Lucroy and an RBI single by Mark Reynolds, opening a 4-1 lead with nobody out.

That's when Collins had seen enough and brought in lefthander Dana Eveland. Before he could get out of the inning, he hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch, forcing in another run.

Collins stayed with Torres as long as possible because he had so few pitchers left. "I said, 'Hey, look, unless they score a bunch of runs, he's going to have to try to get out of that inning,' " Collins said. "And unfortunately, they scored a bunch of runs."

Niese gave the Mets another strong outing, doing essentially what he's done all season. Yet the lefthander again left with nothing to show for his positive performance, and he certainly didn't look pleased to be taken out of the game.

Niese had just given up a single to Carlos Gomez, and Aramis Ramirez was coming up. Ramirez homered in the second, so Collins wanted to bring in a fresh arm instead of allowing Niese to throw his 98th pitch.

But that didn't make the decision any easier to accept for Niese, only 3-3 even though he's been one of the better pitchers in the league. "Ramirez is a tough out for me,'' he said, "but I felt I could definitely dig down and get that last one."

After allowing one run and six hits in 72/3 innings, Niese lowered his ERA to 2.54. However, it marked his fourth consecutive no-decision. The blame for that, though, rests solely with the Mets' offense.

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They managed only four singles off Kyle Lohse, scoring their lone run only because Gomez misplayed Daniel Murphy's leadoff single to centerfield in the fourth. Murphy reached third on the play and Bobby Abreu drove him in with a sacrifice fly.