MILWAUKEE -- The slumping New York Mets had blown a four-run lead in the eighth inning and were on the brink of their fifth loss in six games as people began to lose their cool.
However, veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca steadied the Mets, and didn't flinch against one of the league's best relievers.
His tiebreaking solo home run in the top of ninth off Derrick Turnbow gave the Mets a 9-8 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
Lo Duca sent the 1-0 pitch from Turnbow (0-1) over the wall in left-center, giving the right-hander his first loss since April 10, 2005.
"It's one of those games you don't want to lose," Lo Duca said. "Now we have a chance to win the series."
Turnbow said he meant to throw his 96 mph fastball down and away, but it stayed up in the strike zone.
"You can't be perfect all the time," said Turnbow, who started the season with 12 straight saves. "We battled back so hard. I wish I could've gotten the job done and we would've won."
Jose Valentin homered and drove in four runs and Carlos Beltran added a three-run shot for the NL East-leading Mets, who squandered a chance to give Jeremi Gonzalez his first win exactly a year between major league starts.
"It was an ugly win, but you've got to take any win you can," Valentin said.
Chad Bradford (2-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning to pick up the win. Billy Wagner allowed Carlos Lee to reach second in the ninth, but struck out three for his eighth save in 11 opportunities.
Mets manager Willie Randolph was ejected in a wild eighth inning that began with Valentin's two-run homer to give New York an 8-4 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Corey Koskie hit a three-run homer off reliever Duaner Sanchez and Damian Miller hit a solo shot on the next pitch to tie the score 8-all.
"The game got out of hand so quickly," said Sanchez, who has given up five runs in 1 2/3 innings since beginning his Mets career with 21 scoreless frames. "In five minutes, everything happened."
Sanchez plunked the next batter, Brady Clark, and was ejected. Randolph stormed out of the dugout, turned after finishing his thoughts and was tossed by home plate umpire Tim Tschida. Randolph then returned to yell some more before leaving for the clubhouse.
"It's mind boggling to me," Randolph said. "I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. Obviously in a tie game on the road you're not going to put the winning run on base."
After Jeff Cirillo reached on an error to put two on with one out, Bradford struck out Rickie Weeks and forced Bill Hall to ground out to set the stage for Lo Duca.
"Any time you battle back it hurts," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It was a damn good game, we just didn't win it."
The second-highest attendance in Miller Park history saw Dana Eveland making his first major league start after 27 career relief appearances for the Brewers in place of ace Ben Sheets (right shoulder tendinitis).
Meanwhile, Gonzalez started his first game after his minor league contract was purchased earlier Saturday in the wake of injuries to Brian Bannister (right hamstring), Victor Zambrano (right elbow) and John Maine (right middle finger).
New York scored three in the sixth, two off a single with the bases loaded by Valentin after Eveland walked Chris Woodward, loading the bases to set up a double play. The Mets made it 6-2 on a single by Jose Reyes.
But Milwaukee chipped away in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI single from Geoff Jenkins and an RBI double from Lee.
Gonzalez finished allowing three runs and five hits in five-plus innings. Eveland gave up six runs off seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Randolph had earlier argued with Tschida about a home run by Prince Fielder. Fielder hit his third homer in the series in the fourth, but replays appeared to show the drive hit just below the yellow line marking the wall at the right-field foul pole and failing to clear the fence.
First base umpire Ted Barrett appeared to call the ball in play, but Tschida at home plate overruled him and signaled home run. The umpires conferred and Tschida's call stood.
Valentin played for the Brewers from 1992-1999. He was starting in left field in place of Cliff Floyd. ... Milwaukee traded infielder Enrique Cruz to the Texas Rangers for left-handed reliever Brian Shouse on Saturday. "He's a real-hard thrower, 83 mph fastball I think," Yost deadpanned. Shouse will be the specialist against lefties, and Yost described the unique delivery and pitch movement as "deceptional." ... Bannister threw 83 pitches Saturday in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the rookie RHP has been rehabbing. Randolph said Bannister may be called up as early as Thursday to replace Jose Lima, who has been ineffective in two starts, depending on how Bannister's injury responds from the session. ... There were 45,150 attending the game due to a bobblehead promotion for Turnbow. The largest crowd ever was in 2003 against the Cubs, with 46,218 in attendance.