"It feels a lot better when you have a sloppy game and you win," said Jeter, who made two errors in an inning for the first time since Sept. 3, 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Yankees won for the 11th time in 12 games overall and ended a three-game losing streak to their crosstown rival, improving to 27-16 against the Mets since interleague play began in 1997.
For the first time since 2000, the reinvigorated Mets came into the Subway Series with a better record than the Yankees, but their new Gold Glove first baseman made an error that led to a run and high-priced newcomer Carlos Beltran left two runners in scoring position before getting an RBI single in the seventh.
"Errors happen and you just hope that if and when they happen, they don't cost you a run," Mientkiewicz said. "If I had to do it over, I'd do the same thing."
Facing his mentor, Joe Torre, for the first time, Mets manager Willie Randolph gambled on the bases, sending his baserunners often, and in the field, bringing the infield in during the fourth inning of a scoreless game.
While Randolph dismissed the experience as just "a regular game," Torre recognized the significance of seeing his former bench coach in the other dugout.
"I'm sure he felt a little strange, looking over in our dugout and seeing the Yankee uniforms," Torre said.
Randolph's decision to bring the infield in backfired when Hideki Matsui lined a double past Mientkiewicz at first for a run. The Mets got a run back in the bottom half when Jeter, the Yankees' shortstop and captain, made two errors.
On this night when a 55-degree temperature and a brisk breeze took the buzz out of sellout crowd, Victor Zambrano (2-4) and Kevin Brown (3-4) struggled with their control. Zambrano walked six in 5 1/3 innings, and Brown walked four in five innings.
Brown, who won his third straight start, gave up only three hits and an unearned run. He struck out five to shut down the Mets, who were coming off a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.
"I thought he did a good job changing speeds off his fastball," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "There were a lot of balls off the end of the bat. He kept the ball down the entire way."
Four Yankees relievers pitched four innings of one-run ball, with Mariano Rivera working a perfect ninth for his eighth save to complete a five-hitter. The Yankees, who like the Mets are 22-20, matched their season high of two games over .500.
Rivera became the first Yankees pitcher to appear in 600 regular-season games when he entered in the ninth.
"It's good," Rivera said. "But I don't emphasize too much on that stuff."
After Posada walked to load the bases, Matsui botched Robinson Cano's potential inning-ending, double-play grounder, allowing Hideki Matsui to score. With the infield playing in, Mientkiewicz couldn't handle pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra's one-hopper, scoring Alex Rodriguez.
"I'll tell you what, they need to stop booing when they miss balls," Jeter said of the Shea Stadium crowd of 55,740, which relentlessly razzed Matsui after his error.
In the fourth, Jeter's first error allowed David Wright to reach. After Kaz Matsui doubled off the left-field wall, Jeter made a wild relay throw home that allowed Matsui to advance to third. Zambrano attempted a squeeze bunt -- it went foul -- on Brown's first pitch, then popped out.
The Mets pulled to 3-2 in the seventh on Beltran's RBI single, but the Yankees added two runs in the ninth off Roberto Hernandez on Hideki Matsui's run-scoring grounder and Tino Martinez's sacrifice fly.
- Brown hit a double to center in the fifth inning, his first hit since Aug. 14, 2003, for the Dodgers. "Actually, I felt like a kid," he said.
- Jeter struck out three times after the fifth inning, leaving five runners in scoring position.
- Rodriguez walked three times against Zambrano.
- Floyd stole his first base of the season.