The New York Mets appear to be finally pulling out of their lengthy funk, but they'll likely have a tough time overcoming the damage to their playoff chances.
Matt Harvey is giving them reason for optimism.
The Mets look to win for the sixth time in eight tries as they turn to their impressive rookie pitcher in the finale of a three-game road set against the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
New York (53-55) has won five of seven after dropping 14 of the previous 16 to fall out of close contention in the NL East and wild-card races. The Mets remain 11 1/2 games behind division-leading Washington, and eight games back of the two wild cards.
They continued their recent turnaround Saturday by winning 6-2 at San Diego (45-64), bouncing back after dropping the series opener 3-1.
While reaching the postseason may be a tall order, New York has cause to feel good about the future following a pair of impressive performances from Harvey (1-1, 1.59 ERA), the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft.
The 23-year-old right-hander doesn't deserve too much blame for Tuesday's 4-1 loss at San Francisco. He allowed three runs - two earned - and four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings, while the offense was held to six hits and Ruben Tejada made matters worse with a two-run error.
That performance came five days after Harvey set a record for a Mets debut with 11 strikeouts while yielding three hits in 5 1-3 scoreless innings of a 3-1 win at Arizona.
"This guy's big and strong," manager Terry Collins told the Mets' official website. "I just like the way he works. I just like his composure on the mound. It doesn't seem like he gets very rattled when he's out there.
"He knows what he has to do. He tries to make pitches, doesn't give in. I tell you, I've been pretty impressed. I thought for sure you'd see a good arm coming up here, but he knows what he's doing out there."
While Harvey provides hope on the mound, Tejada's offensive production is another reason for the Mets to be optimistic about 2013 and beyond. The 22-year-old shortstop is hitting .370 over his last 10 games, raising his season average to .321.
He's batting .342 in 11 meetings with the Padres, and has four hits through the first two games of this series.
Losers of six of eight, the Padres will give the ball to Jason Marquis (4-6, 4.08), who will try to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season. He surrendered seven runs - five in the third inning - and a season high-tying three homers in 6 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-6 loss at Cincinnati, snapping a personal three-start winning streak.
"I wasn't too good early on ... I got some balls up and fell behind," Marquis said. "But I tried to stay out there and battle the best that I could."
Marquis is 1-4 with a 6.02 ERA in his last eight starts against the Mets, getting the lone victory with the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 22, 2008.
|New York Mets|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||15-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
|July 21, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 11, 2012||Dillon Gee||Day-to-Day||Bloot clot in right shoulder|
|July 08, 2012||Dillon Gee||15-Day DL||Blood clot in right shoulder|
|San Diego Padres|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|July 28, 2012||Joe Thatcher||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|July 26, 2012||Joe Thatcher||15-Day DL||Right knee tendinitis|
|July 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|June 21, 2012||Anthony Bass||60-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres ' game plan to be aggressive against New York Mets rookie pitcher Matt Harvey worked out just fine.
Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso each hit two-run homers off Harvey and the San Diego Padres earned a 7-3 win over the Mets on Sunday.
Headley's homer, his 15th, came in the first inning. Alonso hit his sixth homer in the third to give San Diego a 5-0 lead.
"We were trying to be as aggressive as possible," Alonso said. "It was the game plan with the guy pitching because we knew he was a strike thrower."
Carlos Quentin also homered off Mets reliever Ramon Ramirez . The solo shot in the seventh was his 11th. Quentin also had an RBI double.
"When you homer three times and you have guys on base, it gives you a pretty good opportunity," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Harvey (1-2), who set a Mets record when he struck out 11 in his debut on July 26, struggled in his third start. He allowed five runs and eight hits, including seven for extra bases. He walked one and struck out five.
"It was one of those days where I couldn't find the strike zone and when I did, it wasn't quality," Harvey said. "I wasn't executing like the last two starts."
Harvey made his major-league debut with a 3-1 win at Arizona when he allowed no runs in 5 1-3 innings. He lost his other start 4-1 at San Francisco on Tuesday despite allowing two earned runs in six innings.
"Obviously, the command of the fastball was the big difference," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I just thought one of the things he was effective with the last two times was locating his fastball down in the zone. (Sunday) he was more in middle of the zone."
Jason Marquis (5-6) gave up Ruben Tejada 's single to open the game and then retired 14 consecutive batters until he issued a leadoff walk to Mike Baxter in the sixth.
Marquis rebounded from one of his worst outings of the season by holding the Mets to three runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings. He had five strikeouts and one walk.
The Padres needed Marquis to go deep in the game after Saturday night's 6-2 loss when starter Edinson Volquez was knocked out in the second inning. San Diego used five relievers to pitch the final 7 1-3 innings.
"I tried to attack the zone and get quick outs," Marquis said. "I tried to execute my game plan and tried not to change too much."
In his previous start, Marquis allowed seven runs and a season high-tying three homers in 6 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-6 loss at Cincinnati.
"He was efficient and pretty sharp early," Black said. "He gave us exactly what we needed, a gutty effort. He knew what he needed to do and he delivered."
Huston Street , the last of three relievers, got the final three outs to complete the five-hitter.
The Padres won for just the third time in nine games and tied a season high with nine extra-base hits.
"We felt like (Saturday) we weren't aggressive, we were too passive," Alonso said. "(Sunday) we were able to be a little more aggressive."
New York completed its season-high 11-game West Coast road trip with a 6-5 record.
Ronny Cedeno hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the sixth one out after Baxter's walk. It was the Mets' eighth pinch-hit home run.
Tejada's hit to lead off the game extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games.
Notes: Ten of Alonso's past 16 hits have gone for extra bases. ... Cedeno's pinch-hit homer was the second of his career. The other came with the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 6, 2007, at Milwaukee. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana pitched three scoreless innings in a rehab start for Class A Brooklyn on Sunday. Santana allowed one hit with one walk and three strikeouts against Auburn. Santana was placed on the DL on July 21 with a right ankle sprain. ... Highly touted Mets prospect right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler will have to wait to make his debut with Triple-A Buffalo. Wheeler's scheduled start on Sunday night was rained out. He will start the first game of Monday's doubleheader. Wheeler, acquired from San Francisco last summer for outfielder Carlos Beltran and cash, was 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 19 starts for Double-A Binghamton. ... Cubs LHP Travis Wood (4-7, 4.90) will face Padres LHP Eric Stults (1-2, 3.19 ERA) on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series. ... The Mets are off Monday before hosting Miami on Tuesday.