SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't a totally depressing Thursday night for the Padres and their loyalists.

X-rays on Jake Peavy's right shin were negative.

Less heartening was a 7-2 loss in front of 28,791 at PETCO Park to the invading Mets, who'd produced all of four hits and one run in seven innings against Peavy before tearing apart a bullpen that had been solid for manager Bruce Bochy.

Peavy figures to be fine for his next start Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks. Maybe the ace will be dealt a better hand.

"It's tough," Peavy said, having departed with a 2-1 lead and a sore shin courtesy of Steve Trachsel's bullet back to the mound in the third inning. "It's always tough getting beat -- especially when you're in the lead.

"It's baseball, and it happens. I'll take my chances [Friday night] with the same guys out there."

Peavy was in prime form -- five strikeouts, no walks -- but Trachsel used his guile to keep the Mets close. With Peavy gone, New York rocked the Padres with a six-run eighth inning -- featuring 47-year-old Julio Franco's two-run homer and a prodigious two-run homer by Carlos Delgado.

Veteran relievers such as Scott Linebrink and Alan Embree, who surrendered a combined six runs while getting two outs, would rely on short-term memory loss to get over it quickly.

"I just didn't execute when I had to, and they strung a few hits together," said Linebrink, 1-2 after going 8-1 last year. "They're a tough team to beat."

"I don't know of any better lineups in baseball," Peavy said.

Linebrink, good as gold setting up for Trevor Hoffman the past two seasons, came on after the Padres had batted for Peavy in the bottom of the seventh, wasting a bases-loaded opportunity with no outs.

Trachsel departed with two on and no outs, having yielded a single to Khalil Greene and a walk to Vinny Castilla. After reliever Chad Bradford side-armed an infield hit to Ben Johnson, the Padres appeared poised to blow it open.

Southpaw Pedro Feliciano retired Geoff Blum on a foul popup, and Eric Young was summoned to bat for Dave Roberts, who'd been the club's main offensive force with a triple, scoring a run in the first on Brian Giles' single, and an RBI single in the third that plated Johnson after the first of the center fielder's two hits.

Mets manager Willie Randolph called for hard-throwing right-hander Duaner Sanchez, the former Dodger, to face Young, another former Dodger. Bochy stuck with Young, who banged a sharp grounder headed toward left field.

Diving to his left, David Wright, the Mets' exceptional young third baseman, speared the ball, jumped to his feet and flipped a one-hop throw to second baseman Kaz Matsui, who dug it out, pivoted and nailed Young by an eyelash to close off the threat.

This seemed to shift the momentum into the other dugout.

Xavier Nady, who'd struck out and grounded out against old teammate and buddy Peavy, fell behind 0-2 against another buddy, Linebrink.

"It was hard for me, facing a couple of guys I've been so close to," Nady explained later. "I just tried to do my job, but it wasn't easy, believe me -- and I have another old buddy to face [Friday night in Woody Williams]."

In decidedly unfriendly fashion, Nady lashed a hanging slider between Castilla and the bag at third, cruising into second for a double that would touch off all manner of Mets fireworks.

After Matsui, whose inside-the-park homer in the third was Peavy's only blemish, tapped to third and Nady was held at second, up stepped the ancient one, Franco.

Linebrink fell behind 1-0 and aimed a 93 mph fastball for a location that would make Franco uncomfortable. It arrived instead in a place Julio liked, and he lashed it toward the rarely visited seats in the right-field corner next to the 322 sign. Giles raced over and looked up, and it was in the seats.

"That's probably the toughest job in baseball, to come off the bench like that and pinch-hit," Linebrink said of the marvel Franco, who became the oldest man to homer in a Major League game. "He's a fastball hitter. He got it."

It was 3-2, suddenly, and soon it would be 6-2. Embree, who'd given up one hit while getting 23 outs in seven games, surrendered Delgado's monster homer off the top of the fence in the deepest part of the park in right-center after Endy Chavez's bunt RBI single had plated Jose Reyes, who'd singled and stolen second against Linebrink.

Cliff Floyd's RBI single delivered Wright, who'd walked and stolen a base, for the sixth run of an eighth inning that was simply nightmarish for the home side.

When it was over, Nady was reminiscing about the guys he'd beaten, and Peavy, his Minor League buddy and Padres teammate for three seasons, was rubbing his shin.

"It still hurts -- it's probably a bruise that'll keep me off my feet a few days," Peavy said. "But X-rays were negative, so that's a good thing."

Some nights, you take your victories wherever you can find them.