The New York Mets pounced on Claudio Vargas early Wednesday night, hitting a pair of three-run homers on their way to an 8-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Mets left-hander Oliver Perez gave up five runs -- four earned -- in the first two innings, but settled down to record a season-high 11 strikeouts. Perez (10-7) pitched six innings, giving up only two of his five hits after the second.
Except for two relief appearances earlier in the year, it was the shortest outing of the season for Vargas (9-3). He was pulled after giving up seven runs on five hits and a pair of walks in 2 2/3 innings.
The Brewers' No. 5 starter is tied for the second-most victories on the staff but has gone more than six innings only once in 19 starts.
Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 26 chances.
Milwaukee's Prince Fielder broke an 18-game homerless streak with a three-run shot in the first inning, but the Mets answered with four runs in the second, including a three-run homer by Ramon Castro that gave New York a 4-3 lead.
The Brewers retook the lead in the bottom half of the second. Corey Hart's sharp single to right center scored Tony Graffanino from second. Hardy then hit a line drive to right field that bounced past diving right fielder Shawn Green, allowing Hart to score from first and giving the Brewers a 5-4 lead.
Green's play was ruled an error, but later was changed to an RBI double for Hardy.
Vargas allowed an infield hit and a walk to begin the third inning, prompting a mound visit from Brewers manager Ned Yost and activity in the Brewers' bullpen.
Vargas struck out Carlos Delgado on an inside pitch -- despite Delgado's pleas to umpires that the pitch had struck him on the hand -- then got Moises Alou to ground out.
But with two outs, Marlon Anderson hit his first home run of the season, giving the Mets a 7-5 lead and chasing Vargas from the game.
Green hit his eighth homer of the season in the sixth, putting the Mets ahead 8-5.
The lone bright spot for the Brewers was a towering first-inning shot from Fielder that clanged off an advertising sign in center field for his 31st home run of the season and first since July 13. The 18 games and 67 at-bats in between were both season highs.
Despite the drought, Fielder still leads the National League in home runs.
Yost originally wasn't sure that Fielder would be able to play on Wednesday. He was hit in the elbow by a pitch from Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game, and said afterward that it "stung a little bit."