Big inning washes Brewers out of Citi Field

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NEW YORK (AP) — Wilmer Flores and Jacob deGrom made Terry Collins’ grand idea look like genius.

The Mets manager slotted New York’s top home-run hitter ninth in the batting order for the first time in nearly a half-century and batted his pitcher eighth for the third time this season.

Flores responded with a grand slam off Matt Garza that sparked a 10-run fourth inning in a 14-1 romp over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night that stopped New York’s five-game losing streak.

DeGrom was 3 for 3 with three singles — including a go-ahead hit in the second and two more in the fourth. He became only the second pitcher since at least 1914 to have three hits in the No. 8 hole, according to STATS, following St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright against Atlanta on Aug. 22, 2008. And deGrom picked an appropriate time for the hat trick — it was fedora giveaway night at Citi Field.

Flores, wearing neon orange batting gloves, followed deGrom’s second hit of night by driving a 94 mph inside fastball over the 370-foot sign and into the left-field party deck, an area where the Mets brought in the fence before the 2012 season. He became the first starting NL position player to hit a grand slam from the No. 9 hole in an NL ballpark, STATS said.

“I don’t worry about the home runs,” Collins said before the game. “I wanted somebody who I believe is a good hitter who can get on base, so that the top of that lineup is coming up. And he was the guy that I thought in this particular case was the best fit.”

Flores’ sixth home run this season, which tied a career high set last year, put the Mets ahead 6-0. New York had nine hits and sent up 15 batters in the 32-minute bottom of the fourth, its highest-scoring inning since a club-record 11-run sixth against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2006.

New York’s top home-run hitter had not been ninth in the order since April 30, 1967, in a doubleheader opener at Cincinnati, according to STATS. Don Cardwell, New York’s starting pitcher that day, was in a seven-way tie for the Mets’ home-run lead with one. Flores became the Mets’ first outright home-run leader to hit ninth.

New York tied its record for runs at Citi Field, which opened in 2009, and had a season-high 16 hits on a night the teams played through intermittent rain.

Collins wasn’t concerned Milwaukee would pitch around Flores, an infielder whose career high was six homers last year.

“It’s not like he’s Giancarlo Stanton,” the manager said. “He’s got power, and he’s hit five homers, but if you want to pitch around him to pitch to Curtis Granderson, I’ll take that.”

Cutting down on his stride, deGrom (4-4) limited the Brewers to five hits in six innings, giving up his only run on Ryan Braun’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly. He is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his last 11 home starts.

Kevin Plawecki added a solo homer, and Granderson hit a two-run drive in the seventh off Neal Cotts,

New York, which totaled 10 runs during the losing streak, has held sole possession of the NL East since April 16, but its margin was down to just a half-game.

Garza (2-5) allowed a career-high 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings, raising his ERA from 4.04 to 5.72. Milwaukee has given up 54 homers, among the most in the majors.

Luis Sardina, who turned 22, made his Brewers debut and went 2 for 3, including singles in his first two at-bats. Scooter Gennett was 0 for 3 and is hitless in 15 at-bats and 1 for his last 23.