Eric Young Jr. won the National League stolen base crown and helped the New York Mets rally past Milwaukee 3-2 on Sunday when the Brewers botched two bunts in the eighth inning.
Young swiped two bases in the first, scored on a shallow sacrifice fly and later threw out a runner at the plate from left field. He began the day tied for the NL lead in steals at 44 with Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura, who sat out for the 10th time in 11 games.
Segura returned Saturday from a strained right hamstring, but he and the Brewers didn’t want to push it in the season finale, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Marco Estrada allowed two hits in seven sharp innings for the Brewers, who also finished 74-88 for fourth place in the NL Central. They had won four games in a row and 12 of 17.
Estrada struck out eight and walked none.
Milwaukee scored twice on five singles and a walk in the fourth, then carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth. Lagares reached on a throwing error by shortstop Jeff Bianchi, and Juan Centeno dropped down a bunt in front of home plate.
Second baseman Scooter Gennett was late covering first and bumped into umpire CB Bucknor while trying to navigate his way toward the bag. The throw from catcher Jonathan Lucroy sailed up the right field line for an error that allowed Lagares to score all the way from first.
Wilfredo Tovar sacrificed and reached safely when first baseman Sean Halton made an ill-advised throw to third. Pinch-runner Matt den Dekker beat the play, putting runners at the corners.
One out later, Young drove in the go-ahead run with a dribbler back to reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-3).
Playing in front of their third sellout crowd this year, the Mets prevented a four-game sweep by Milwaukee and finished 74-88 in their fifth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field.
They assured themselves at least a tie for third place in the NL East, their highest finish since second in 2008. New York had come in fourth for four consecutive years.
Before the game, former Mets slugger Mike Piazza was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame during a 30-minute ceremony on the field.
After the final out, Young applauded as Mets players tossed their caps into the stands behind the dugout.
Center fielder Juan Lagares also cut down a Milwaukee runner at the plate in the fourth to help starter Jonathon Niese escape further damage. Lagares finished with 15 assists, a Mets record for rookies and the most among rookie outfielders in the majors this year.
Vic Black (3-0) pitched a hitless inning for the win and Frank Francisco struck out two of three batters in the ninth for his first save since Sept. 1 last year.
NOTES: Young scored on David Wright’s sacrifice fly in the first inning after stealing second and third. … Young’s father, Eric, led the NL in stolen bases with 53 in 1996 with Colorado. … The only other Mets player to lead the league in steals was Jose Reyes, who did it three years in a row from 2005-07. … New York 2B Daniel Murphy ended the season with an 11-game hitting streak. …. The Mets finished 33-48 at home. Only the Chicago Cubs (31-50) were worse in the NL. … Milwaukee CF Carlos Gomez stole a base to become the first Brewers player with 20 homers and 40 steals in one season. … Mets home attendance has dropped in five straight seasons for the first time in franchise history. With Sunday’s crowd of 41,891, the Mets drew 2,135,657, down from 4.04 million in Shea Stadium’s last year in 2008, 3.15 million in 2009, 2.56 million in 2010, 2.35 million in 2011 and 2.24 million last year. This is the team’s lowest home attendance since 1.77 million at Shea Stadium in 1997. … In the second-year of smaller dimensions at Citi Field, there were 149 home runs, down from 155 last year, according to STATS. In the three years of the more spacious outfield, there were 130 homers in 2009, 110 the following year and 108 in 2011. The Mets had 59 long balls at Citi Field, down from 67 last year but up from 50 in 2011.