Aaron Heilman continues to struggle, and he gave the Mets a scare in the ninth inning tonight. With Billy Wagner on the disabled list, manager Jerry Manuel stated that Heilman would receive most of the save opportunities for the time being. Coming in with a 6-2 lead, Heilman walked the first batter.
After a miscommunication between center fielder Carlos Beltran and second baseman Argenis Reyes allowed a pop-up to fall in for a hit, Heilman was in trouble.
He got Scott Hairston to hit a ground ball to David Wright who threw to second for one out, but the Mets were unable to complete the double play.
The next hitter, Jody Gerut, launched a three-run homer into the Mets' bullpen to put the Padres within one run. Manuel had seen enough and removed Heilman from the game.
Joe Smith got Tadahito Iguchi to pop out in foul ground and Argenis Reyes made a nice running catch over by the stands to record the out.
Scott Schoeneweis then got Brian Giles to fly out to center on the first pitch to pick up his first save of the season.
On the positive side for the Mets, Fernando Tatis continues to look good at the plate. Tatis led the major leagues with a .397 batting average in the month of July, and he came through tonight when the Mets most needed him.
In the fourth, with the Mets trailing 1-0 and without a hit so far, Tatis launched his 100th career home run off San Diego's 6'10" Chris Young to tie it.
After an Adrian Gonzalez solo homer in the sixth put the Padres back in front, Tatis answered again. With two men on, Tatis ripped a two-strike slider that hooked just inside the foul pole to give the Mets a two run lead.
Mike Pelfrey pitched fairly well for the Mets, allowing just solo home runs by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Adrian Gonzalez in 6.2 innings to pick up his tenth win of the season.
Two of the Mets rookies produced some insurance runs that proved to be very helpful. In the seventh, Dan Murphy laced a double to the opposite field to drive home Argenis Reyes. It was Murphy's first major league RBI.
The next inning, Nick Evans came up with a double of his own. Carlos Beltran scored, and Evans took third when the Padres made a couple of throwing errors on the play.
I liked what I saw from Murphy tonight. He made a great leaping catch against the wall on the first play of the game, and showed great patience at the plate while walking twice and knocking the RBI double.
He did make a mistake on the base paths, trying to go from second to third on a grounder to the third baseman, but I'm sure he'll learn from it. Murphy figures to see a large chunk of playing time in the outfield in the near future, and I'm looking forward to watching him play.
It will be interesting to see what Jerry Manuel does with the closer situation in Wagner's absence. As I stated in a previous article, the Mets need Heilman to regain his confidence and be a reliable setup man. I would like to see the youngster Eddie Kunz get a shot at closing. After all, he did save 27 games in Double-A this season.
Tomorrow, San Diego will send Cha Seung Baek (3-6, 5.22 ERA) to the mound.
Pedro Martinez (3-2, 6.16) will pitch for the Mets. Pedro has struggled this year, but has looked better in his past three starts while pitching 14.1 innings and allowing five earned runs (3.14 ERA).
Player of the Game: Fernando Tatis: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI