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Francisco holds on as Mets top Brewers

Mike Nikeas, left, and Frank Francisco high five

Mike Nikeas, left, and Frank Francisco high five after Francisco recorded the save and the Mets won 3-1. (May 14, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

The gates leading from the Mets' bullpen swung open and Frank Francisco sauntered through, just as Terry Collins indicated earlier.

Francisco trotted out for the ninth, looking to put the nightmarish weekend he had in Miami behind him and make good on his manager's faith to keep him in his closer's role.

But Francisco didn't make it easy on himself, allowing Milwaukee to shave a three-run deficit to two before getting pinch hitter George Kottaras to fly out with runners on first and second and close the door on the Mets' 3-1 victory at Citi Field last night.

Francisco got the save for starter Miguel Batista, who allowed no runs and four hits in seven innings.

"I know things are not going my way right now," Francisco said. "But a lot of those base hits I've been giving up have been broken-bat singles and all that. I feel like it's not going my way. A lot of times, you don't feel good, but you get three line drives right to somebody. For everybody, that's really good. But not for me."

Francisco, who earned his ninth save in 11 tries, allowed a leadoff single to Ryan Braun and got Aramis Ramirez to ground out after Braun stole second. But Braun scored on Corey Hart's single to bring the Brewers within two. Francisco walked Taylor Green but struck out Brooks Conrad looking before Kottaras' game-ending flyout to centerfield.

Collins said he was about to give Francisco the hook for Jon Rauch if he didn't retire Kottaras.

"Had he lost that hitter, I was probably going to go to Jon," Collins said. "But I wanted to give him that opportunity. Yeah, it was stressful, probably for him more than me. After the conversation we had today, he wanted that one bad."

Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games, driving in a run with a first-inning single. Murphy scored on Ronny Cedeño's one-out suicide squeeze in the sixth.

Batista did his part, looking nothing like the guy who's been disappointing since taking the injured Mike Pelfrey's spot in the rotation.

Batista (1-1) struck out Hart on a 91-mph fastball to end the sixth and walked off the mound after the seventh having struck out five and walked only one.

Batista allowed a single and a walk in the first but got out of trouble and was in control thereafter.

"Me and [catcher Mike Nickeas] got together after the first inning and he explained to me this guy has this type of zone,'' Batista said, referring to plate umpire Jerry Meals. "When he explained that to me, we made the adjustment and just went to work.''

The Mets quickly got to Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (2-2) as Murphy's two-out single drove in Kirk Nieuwenhuis for a 1-0 lead.

They nearly gave it back in the second, in part because of rightfielder Lucas Duda's ill-advised attempt to make a diving stab at Green's low liner. The ball skirted under Duda's glove and Green chugged to third.

Green, though, got a slow start on Cesar Izturis' suicide squeeze. Nickeas fielded the ball and threw to third baseman David Wright, who made the tag.

But the Mets didn't let this one get away. "I know right now I'm going through tough times," Francisco said. "And if you are a fighter, that's what you have to do, fight through those moments.''

That would be music to Collins' ears. "That's the hope, is that he takes this outing and realizes he's going through this rough time right now," Collins said. "He wanted to be in there bad tonight, so I thought I should give him the opportunity."


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