After two of baseball's best closers flopped again Thursday night, Heath Bell had enough moxie to hang on for his first major league save.
"It's a rarity, that's for sure," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It just goes to show you closers are human. It's a tough role. People want perfection, and it's not going to happen."
The Padres took two of three from the NL East leaders in a potential playoff preview. San Diego increased its lead in the wild-card race to two games over Philadelphia.
Wagner and Hoffman both struggled mightily all series. Wagner blew one save chance and gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Tuesday before New York rallied to win. Hoffman blew two saves, sandwiched around a successful conversion Wednesday night.
On Aug. 10, Wagner and Hoffman blew saves on the same day for the first time ever. Thirteen days later, they did it in the same game.
"I'm not going to worry about Trev. He's had a great season and he's one of the best ever," Black said.
The Mets led 7-6 in the ninth and handed the ball to Wagner, who was trying for his 30th save. But he allowed back-to-back doubles to Khalil Greene and pinch-hitter Terrmel Sledge, and Josh Bard followed with an RBI single that gave San Diego an 8-7 lead. It was the third blown save this year for Wagner.
"Hey, it's going to happen," Wagner said. "That was about the best I've pitched in three weeks. It's the best control I've had."
The Mets stormed back against Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader. Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo hit consecutive singles with one out, then pulled off a double steal. David Wright's sacrifice fly tied it.
"I made some good pitches," Hoffman said. "You have to give credit to those guys. You don't want to say that too much, but sometimes you have to."
Gonzalez hit his solo home run with one out in the 10th off Aaron Heilman (7-6). It was the 21st of the year for Gonzalez.
Hoffman (3-4) was credited with the win. Bell, an ex-Met, pitched a scoreless ninth for his first career save.
Bell wasn't worried about the fact that two pitchers with a combined 867 saves had failed before him.
"I always have confidence I'm going to go out there and no one's going to hit me," he said. "Sometimes they do, but I always think they won't."
Trailing 6-1 in the sixth, the Mets scored six runs, capped by pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson's three-run homer.
The Mets loaded the bases against starter Justin Germano before Cla Meredith retired Delgado on a popup, drawing loud boos from the near-capacity crowd. The slumping Delgado, who is getting used to hearing it from the home fans, tossed his helmet in frustration as he walked back to the dugout.
Alou walked to force in a run, and Shawn Green's two-run single made it 6-4.
Anderson followed with his home run to right. He had a pinch-hit double in the ninth inning Wednesday night, and has driven in 13 runs in his last 13 games.
Anderson's home run bailed out Tom Glavine, who was in line to take the loss after his worst home start of the season. Glavine struggled with his command, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings. He threw 96 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Bard and Greene each had three hits for the Padres.
Veteran catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., making his Shea Stadium debut for the Mets, did an excellent job of blocking the plate in the third inning. With the score tied at 1, Milton Bradley tried to score from first on a double by Gonzalez. Bradley beat the strong relay throw from Reyes, but couldn't get a piece of the plate.
- Mets general manager Omar Minaya said RHP Pedro Martinez threw in the bullpen in Florida and will next take the mound Monday for Class A St. Lucie. Martinez will throw "between 80 and 90 pitches," Minaya said.
- Wright's first-inning steal was the team's 160th of the season, surpassing the previous franchise record set in 1987. The Mets stole four more bases in the game.
- The Class A Brooklyn Cyclones' game against Oneonta was rained out. Mets C Paul Lo Duca, who was supposed to start his rehab assignment in the game, will catch the first game of a doubleheader Friday and will be the DH in the second game.