Mets avoid being no-hit, but fall to the Padres
San Diego — The Mets arrived in San Diego on an 8-2 run, refreshed from the All-Star break and then won their series opener against the Padres.
New York heads for Seattle with a two-game losing streak and one run in its last 18 innings.
"We just didn't swing the bats," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You credit the job that kid did."
Odrisamer Despaigne came within four outs of the first no-hitter in San Diego's 46-year major league history on Sunday, and the Padres beat the New York Mets 2-1 on Seth Smith's run-scoring infield single in the ninth.
Making his fifth major league start, Despaigne didn't allow a hit until Daniel Murphy doubled to left-center with two outs in the eighth.
"I thought I threw him a pretty good pitch," Despaigne said through Grandal, who served as his translator. "I did great with all my pitches, attacking after getting the first strike."
It was a 63 mph strike to Bobby Abreu which gave the befuddled Mets some comic relief. Abreu was annoyed by the lack of speed in Despaigne's curveball and playfully decided to complain to plate umpire Chris Guccione.
"It was the highlight of the day," Grandal said. "He looked back at the umpire and said we were cheating, and the umpire started laughing."
San Diego, the only active major league franchise without a no-hitter, was playing its 7,264th regular-season game and has played 34 more in the postseason.
The Mets were the only other active big league team without a no-hitter before Johan Santana pitched one against St. Louis in June 2012 during New York's 8,020th regular-season game.
Despaigne, a 27-year-old Cuban right-hander signed as a minor league free agent on May 2, allowed one run and two hits in 7 2-3 innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He threw 123 pitches and lowered his ERA to 1.31.
"You just don't see stuff at this level that's that offspeed," Collins said. "You're locating at 13, 14 miles an hour difference on a good changeup. It could be 20 miles an hour on that curveball. and it's just tough to adjust."
Murphy scored on David Wright's single to tie the score 1-1.
"He kept me off-balance throwing his change up, his curveball," Murphy said. "He had a little life on the heater, too.
Vic Black (2-3) walked Carlos Quentin on four pitches leading off the ninth, and Alexi Amarista bunted, with pinch-runner Cameron Maybin advancing to second and Amarista reaching when the ball went through Black's legs for an error.
Chase Headley grounded into a 4-3-6 double play as Maybin reached third. Josh Edgin relieved, and the pitcher tumbled to the ground when he came off the mound to field Smith's bouncer between the mound and first. Edgin dropped the ball, picked it up and then shoveled it to first too late to catch Smith as Maybin came across the plate.
Joaquin Benoit (4-2), San Diego's fourth pitcher, threw a perfect ninth for the win.
Grandal homered in the fourth off Zack Wheeler, who allowed one run and eight hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
"I thought he pitched very, very well to keep us in the game," Collins said.
Padres manager Bud Black was impressed by Wheeler, too.
"That kid is going to be a good one," Black said. "He is a good, young pitcher."
• Collins said RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka could step in if LHP Jon Niese's start is cut short in Seattle tonight. With Neise's return from the DL, Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen but is available for a spot start. ... Abreu started on Sunday to prepare him for the DH role in Seattle. Abreu is 0 for 18 as a pinch hitter. ... Padres SS Everth Cabrera (strained left hamstring) is to play today with Triple A El Paso. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (right shoulder strain) threw again on the side but will rest today. ... Niese (5-4, 2.96) faces Mariners LHP Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54) tonight. Padres LHP Eric Stults (3-11, 4.98) goes against Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 6.00) on Tuesday in Chicago.
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