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Headley's two-run shot puts Padres up early

SAN DIEGO -- If Mets rookie standout Matt Harvey had heard Petco Park was a pitcher-friendly venue, he probably doesn't believe it after his first outing in San Diego.

The Padres' offense was anything but welcoming to the 23-year-old righty, who had given up just three extra-base hits in his first two starts. He gave up six in the first four innings on Sunday, including home runs by Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso.

By the time Harvey's day was done after five innings, he had conceded five runs on eight hits, and handed his offense a deficit it would not overcome in the Padres' 7-3 triumph.

"When I tried to go away, it was either six inches away or six inches middle," Harvey said. "It was one of those days where I couldn't find the strike zone, and when I did, it was not quality."

Those early runs gave starter Jason Marquis more than enough to work with, as the veteran right-hander turned in the kind of outing the overworked Padres bullpen needed.

"I tried not to put in my head too much that the bullpen needs a break. I just tried to go out there and execute my game plan," Marquis said. "I think it's crucial to go deep into the game every time I pitch. ... Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but today was a good day for it, to let the bullpen get the rest it needed."

After allowing a leadoff single to Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, Marquis did not allow another hit until the fifth, when Ronny Cedeno, pinch-hitting for Harvey, clubbed a two-run homer. That was a streak of 14 straight batters retired, which is not even his longest such streak in his last three outings, as he retired 16 straight Giants on July 25.

"He's got such a good sinker. ... And when it's on, it's really difficult," catcher John Baker said. "You had guys on the Mets saying they don't usually see sinkers like that. You see balls going sideways, but you don't usually see balls go straight down. ... When his ball's moving downhill like it did today, it can be easy to rattle off 14, 15, 16 batters in a row."

Marquis left to an ovation with one out in the seventh, having given up three runs on four hits en route to earning his fifth win with the Padres.

"I got some quick outs and the defense did a good job," Marquis said. "And we got some runs on the board, which made it a little bit easier."

Two of those runs came courtesy of Alonso, whose homer was a line drive to center field. His fifth-inning double upped his season total to 31 -- the most among all Major League rookies -- and of his last 16 hits, 10 have been for extra bases. Alonso is hitting .390 (16 for 41) over his last 10 games, during which time he has two homers, eight RBIs and seven doubles.

Carlos Quentin matched Alonso with a homer and double, and Quentin, Alonso and Headley each drove in two runs.

"We felt like the past day we weren't aggressive, we were very passive -- including myself -- and today we were able to be more aggressive," Alonso said. "We knew [Harvey] was a strike thrower. ... He has a power fastball and we knew he was going to throw it. ... We were hopeful that he was going to leave them up and [we could] put good swings on it."

The Padres did just that, and those good swings combined with the solid outing from Marquis to take the pressure off the San Diego middle-relief corps. That left the bulk of the work to the stingy back end of the Padres bullpen, Luke Gregerson and Huston Street.

Gregerson pitched the eighth and ran his scoreless streak to 13 1/3 innings, and the Padres added a run on a pinch-hit RBI triple from Mark Kotsay in the bottom half of the inning to get the ball to Street with a four-run lead.

Street worked a perfect ninth to extend his scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings. The All-Star has not allowed a run since June 20, and has struck out 24 while allowing just three walks in that span. Opposing batters are hitting a minuscule .053 off him (3-for-57) over that span.

The win gave the Padres their fourth series win in seven sets since the All-Star break after winning just seven of 27 prior. In that time, Petco Park has become a little less friendly for opposing pitchers, as Sunday was the fifth time in 10 home games since the break that San Diego scored six or more runs, one shy of the number of times they hit that mark in 44 first-half games in San Diego last season.

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