08/24/07 12:24 AM ET
Wild affair favors Padres in the end
Gonzalez's homer in the 10th lifts Friars to series win over Mets
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"When you come to New York, it's a different kind of feel," Black said. "The level of intensity as the game grows, especially if the game is tight, the crowd gets louder. I think New York brings out the best in players."
It certainly brought out the best in San Diego's offense in this series, one that ended with yet another harrowing finish, as the Padres hung on -- and that's putting it lightly -- for a 9-8 victory over the Mets in 10 innings at Shea Stadium.
The Padres (68-58) survived a wild ride with a crowd of 50,078 jeering all of the 15 hits that they accumulated against five Mets pitchers to finish the set with 22 runs on 40 hits in a series where the games were decided by four runs.
Yes, all of this from a team that has struggled finding offensive consistency this season, especially at spacious PETCO Park, where a victory like Thursday's might not have been entirely possible.
Just ask Adrian Gonzalez, who lined a home run to right field in the 10th that was the game-winner. He hits that ball at PETCO, and maybe the Padres and Mets are still playing.
"If we're in San Diego, the ball I hit is an out or maybe a double," Gonzalez said. "When we get out of PETCO, we feel more confident about our ability to hit."
The Padres certainly needed every one of those hits against the Mets (71-55), who rallied from a 6-1 deficit for a 7-6 lead, fell behind, 8-7, in the ninth and later retook the lead with a run off closer Trevor Hoffman, who blew his second save in three days, to force extra innings.
Get all that?
And in the end, maybe fittingly, it was former New York relief pitcher Heath Bell who turned back a Mets rally by getting Luis Castillo out on a ground ball for his first Major League save in the bottom of the 10th.
"That was huge to me," Bell said. "It's in New York; on Tuesday, I got booed. I probably got booed again [on Thursday], but I didn't hear it, I was so focused. Even with two guys on, I knew we were going to win this game."
It didn't always seem like that was going to happen, especially when pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson -- he of a .555 batting average in the past two seasons against the Padres in 27 at-bats -- knocked a three-run home run off reliever Cla Meredith in the sixth inning for a 7-6 lead.
But the Padres were resilient, if nothing else.
San Diego rallied in the ninth inning for two runs off Mets closer Billy Wagner, as Khalil Greene, who had eight hits in the series, doubled to left field to start the frame. Greene then came around to score the tying run when pinch-hitter Terrmel Sledge fisted a ball to left field. Josh Bard then made it 8-7 with an RBI single.
Milton Bradley, standing on the top rail of the visiting dugout, placed his hand over his heart in astonishment as the crowd, many of them standing, fell silent. But they weren't quiet long, though.
The Padres gave that run back in the ninth as Hoffman allowed a sacrifice fly to David Wright.
For Black, he has no concerns about Hoffman, who has blown three saves since Aug. 10.
"In this case, you've got to give credit to the Mets hitters. Trevor is a guy who works the fastball in and out, works his change," Black said. "They're placing the ball, not trying to do too much with it. I'm not worried about Trevor. He's one of the best of all time. He's had a great year for us."
Long gone by this point was Padres starting pitcher Justin Germano, who mostly sailed through the first five innings, allowing a run on four hits. But his hum-drum night sure changed in that wild sixth inning.
Luis Castillo opened the inning with a single, and Wright got on base when Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff couldn't handle the hot bouncer that Wright sent his way. Germano then walked Carlos Beltran, which brought Black from the dugout.
Meredith got Carlos Delgado to pop out for the first out, but then he walked in a run as Moises Alou trotted to first base. After a Shawn Green two-run single and another out, Anderson went down and drove a pitch into the seats in right field.
Undaunted, the Padres kept chipping away. Two runs in the ninth inning and one more in the 10th, and now it's on to Philadelphia, where the Padres' offense could really get cooking in what's regarded as the most hitter-friendly stadium -- Citizens Bank Park -- in baseball.
The Padres will do so on the heels of two consecutive victories where they got five hits with runners in scoring position. Better still, San Diego had 10 RBIs in this series when there were two outs, including three on Thursday.
"I think when we're going well, that's something we do," Greene said. "When guys get hot, they tend to pick up hits -- three or four at a time -- and pick up RBIs in chunks. It's a matter of staying with it when things aren't going as well as you would like."
And, based on the returns in the Big Apple, being in the right place, certainly doesn't hurt either.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.