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SD@NYM: Bartlett smacks an RBI double in the fifth

NEW YORK -- By all accounts, the Padres felt like they struck gold at the Trade Deadline when they landed two highly regarded Minor League pitchers in the deal with Texas in which reliable reliever Mike Adams went to the Rangers.

Ten days later, the Padres' thoughts about pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland have not wavered, though it's certainly apparent that they're missing Adams more than ever, as for the second time in as many nights they let a late-inning lead slip away.

On Tuesday, the Mets scored three runs in the eighth inning off reliever Chad Qualls on their way to a 5-4 victory over the Padres in front of a crowd of 24,619 at Citi Field who witnessed another rare San Diego bullpen meltdown.

How rare?

The last time the Padres gave up a two-run lead in the eighth inning or later in consecutive games, regardless of win or loss, occurred July 23-24 of 2006, against the Giants and Dodgers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Oddly enough, the Padres won both of those games.

The last time the Padres lost successive games while leading by two or more runs in the eighth inning or later happened on July 6-7, 1995 -- Trevor Hoffman's second full season with the Padres, and manager Bud Black's last season as a Major League pitcher.

"Players over the 162-game season are not going to be flawless," said Black on Tuesday, more or less repeating many of the same things he said after Monday's 9-8 loss to the Mets, during which the Padres allowed five runs over the final two innings.

On Tuesday, it was Qualls who again was touched up late by the Mets, as he allowed three runs on three hits without retiring a batter in the eighth inning. Rookie reliever Josh Spence, who inherited a two-on, none-out situation, walked Ruben Tejada later in the inning to force in the go-ahead run.

Adams had 61 holds over the last two seasons with the Padres, turning the eighth inning into a drama-free inning before turning the ball over to All-Star closer Heath Bell. With Adams gone, the Padres have struggled to fill his role.

Qualls, who has inherited the eighth-inning specialist role, has now allowed six runs on seven hits with two home runs in his last two innings, spanning three games in the last three days.

"I've been throwing the ball too good all year to have one bad week," Qualls said. "It's frustrating to know you're throwing the ball so well all season to have this crush you. ... Wade pitched a great game for that to happen."

Padres starter Wade LeBlanc allowed two runs over six innings, allowing six hits and one walk to go with five strikeouts. San Diego scored two runs in the fourth inning, but he allowed two runs in the bottom of the frame.

So when the Padres scored twice in the fifth inning, getting consecutive RBI doubles by Jason Bartlett and Jesus Guzman, LeBlanc vowed to buckle down.

"I couldn't let that happen again, like I did in the fourth," said LeBlanc, who was recalled from Triple-A Tucson on Monday. "When they [teammates] picked me up, I couldn't let them [Mets] have it."

LeBlanc worked a quick fifth inning and then retired the Mets in order in the sixth before giving the ball to Luke Gregerson, who pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, putting the Padres to within six outs of victory.

"I thought Wade hung in there, he spotted the fastball, we saw some called strikes and he utilized the changeup," Black said. "He left in a good position."

The offense made sure he did, as the Padres finished with 12 hits and four runs, easily the fewest runs they have scored on the first six games of a 10-game road trip. The first three hitters in the order -- Cameron Maybin, Bartlett and Guzman -- combined for six hits.

Guzman raised his average to .345 and now has 29 RBIs in his first 119 at-bats since his first game with the Padres on June 19.

"I really like the way we're swinging the bats overall," Black said. "We had a couple of other opportunities that we couldn't cash in."

That proved important when the Mets rallied for the lead in the eighth inning for the win.

"It's pretty special," Mets starter Chris Capuano said. "That club over there has one of the best bullpens in baseball, and to put together a couple of comebacks like we did -- especially after losing Jose [Reyes] and Daniel [Murphy] the other night, I think we were a little down -- it's great.

"They are really pick-me-up wins for us." Comments