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NYM@MIL: Capuano bests Brewers in return to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- So much of Chris Capuano's reputation was forged here, in the shadow of Miller Park's retractable roof and shiny yellow home run slide. Before coming to the Mets, Capuano had pitched in 70 games at Miller Park, nearly eight times as many as in any other stadium. He had grown comfortable here.

Tuesday, however, represented something wholly different. Though Capuano was in Milwaukee once again, this time he was pitching against his old Brewers teammates for the first time since switching allegiances. It may have been strange, but it ended successfully. Back in his old digs, swatting away butterflies, Capuano held the Brewers to one run over six innings of a 2-1 victory for the Mets.

"I didn't think it was going to be weird or anything, but getting dropped off at the South Dock and walking in by the Brewers' clubhouse was a little strange," Capuano said. "It was a little different."

Jose Reyes may have provided the game's most explosive highlight, slamming a game-winning two-run triple high off the center-field wall in the seventh. But it was Capuano who gave the Brewers their most consistent frustrations, relying heavily on his high-80s fastball and tumbling changeup to record five strikeouts and several weak popups. Ryan Braun best encapsulated his team's evening at the plate, slamming his helmet to the dirt after whiffing on an 86-mph fastball to end the fifth.

Spending four seasons in the same organization as Capuano, Braun hadn't faced the left-hander outside of a batting practice session or two. Neither had Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks or Casey McGehee, all of them Brewers for their entire careers.

If Capuano drew an advantage from his five seasons pitching for the Brewers, however, it was negligible. The left-hander concentrated mainly on the scouting reports that he and pitching coach Dan Warthen developed from watching video, hardly using his personal familiarity as a crutch.

"If you execute your pitches, you're going to get them out," said Capuano, whose only real mistake came on a homer to Fielder to lead off the sixth. "And tonight, I executed my pitches pretty well."

"It was Cappy," Fielder said. "He's gone through a lot and has come back, and I guess he's got it all back together after the injuries. It's awesome to see."

Yet for all his successes, Capuano was in line for the loss when manager Terry Collins lifted him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh. His counterpart, Shaun Marcum, was pitching even better despite four walks, holding the Mets to two hits in six innings. No Met reached third base against Marcum, who now ranks sixth in the National League in ERA.

The Mets waited until Marcum departed to strike, greeting reliever Marco Estrada with Josh Thole's walk and Ruben Tejada's base hit to open the seventh. After the next batter, Jason Pridie, hit into a fielder's choice, Reyes belted his 11th triple of the season off the right-center-field wall.

For perspective's sake, no other Major League hitter has more than six triples. Reyes has five in his last six games.

"I've never seen anything like this," Collins said. "I've never had a player like that, where he is so exciting to watch. And I'm going to tell you what: When he hits a ball in the gap or down the line, it's three. He is right out of the batter's box and he wants it badly. It's so incredible, it really is."

The Mets might have had more offense had their old teammate, center fielder Carlos Gomez, not robbed Carlos Beltran of an extra-base hit -- perhaps a home run -- with his wall-climbing catch later in the seventh. As it was, the Mets were clinging to a one-run lead, providing relievers Pedro Beato, Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez with no margin for error in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

They needed none. Unsuccessful of late, that trio recorded nine consecutive outs to end the game, boosting the Mets to their third consecutive victory.

"We've struggled for a while," said Rodriguez, who had allowed five runs over his previous three outings. "To be able to bounce back against the good offense they have, that's a good thing."

At the end of the season, Rodriguez may not remember this game for more than it was -- a solid win against a solid NL foe. But Capuano may remember it for something more.

Landing in Milwaukee on Monday, Capuano spent the night catching up with old friends, before arriving at the ballpark Tuesday afternoon for his reunion. As Capuano walked the corridors of Miller Park, employees stopped to say hello. When he emerged from the clubhouse for his pregame warmup, Capuano accidentally began jogging toward the home team's bullpen.

Everything was backward, save for the result, a victory. That script Capuano had seen before.

"I genuinely hadn't thought about this being different or momentous or anything like that," he said. "And it wasn't momentous or anything, but there was a certain feeling walking in where it was kind of strange."

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