SAN DIEGO - A day after their defense and weak hitting mucked up a game, the Mets starched up their performance while the Padres misfired in Petco Park.
New York's 6-2 victory on Saturday, which evened the three-game series, came with help from two players who began their careers with San Diego, pitcher Jeremy Hefner and outfielder Mike Baxter.
Hefner (2-4) issued no walks, underscoring a six-inning, one-run performance.
On offense, walking was all Baxter did in becoming the first Met since Vince Coleman in 1992 to draw five walks in a game and setting a franchise record for walks in a nine-inning contest.
Baxter, whose on-base percentage rose to .425, heard wisecracks from Mets teammates after taking the five free passes.
“They were just kind of teasing me: ‘Hey, way to swing it tonight,’” he said.
Baxter described his performance as strange and funny.
“Each at-bat, it's not like I was looking to walk,” he said. “I was still looking for a pitch to hit. I just ended up walking.”
Daniel Murphy, batting fifth, had four hits and drew a walk in New York's four-run second inning.
The Mets took10 walks in all, which had to please CEO Sandy Alderson, the spiritual godfather of Moneyball. Alderson, the CEO of the Padres from 2005 to 2008, has a home in San Diego and is attending the series.
Petco Park plays larger than most major league ballparks, and because Saturday's game started in late afternoon, hitters faced an additional challenge: a flicker effect caused by shadows and sunlight.
Fortunately for Mets hitters, the Padres' Edinson Volquez seldom required them to hit the ball.
Volquez (7-8) gave out four walks in the second, and two of them, to No. 8 hitter Josh Tole and leadoff man Ruben Tejada, pushed in runs for a 2-0 lead.
When Jordany Valdespin followed Tejada's walk with a two-run double, Volquez departed having thrown 25 strikes in 54 pitches.
“We're kind of a patient club anyway,” Mets manager Terry Collins said after his team dealt Volquez his shortest outing since August 2010. “That's not the guy we've seen in the past. We're just lucky he didn't have his command.”
A leadoff single by Mets cleanup man Ike Davis, batting .209 at the time, began the four-run inning.
Hefner was facing the Padres, who drafted and signed him in 2007, for the second time. Pelted by San Diego in May for nine hits and six runs, Hefner had five hits allowed and two strikeouts in the rematch.
“It was fun,” he said. “It was sweet. I know a bunch of those guys still - that was fun, a lot of fun.”
The Mets led 6-1 going into the ninth before Chase Headley's 14th home run and Yonder Alonso's one-out double moved Collins to replace reliever Bobby Parnell with Frank Francisco, whose second pitch to John Baker produced a game-ending double play and his 19th save.
Collins said Francisco, because of a balky lat muscle, was to be used only if a save was on the line.
“I didn't need to aggravate it more than it's been aggravated,” he said.
Collins said Johan Santana will come off the disabled list on Aug. 11 to face the Braves. Santana, who went to the DL with a sprained ankle and shoulder fatigue, on Sunday is to make a rehabilitation outing with the Brooklyn Cyclones. … Collins said the Santana slotting will allow rookie Matt Harvey, who'll be making his home debut, to start on normal rest Aug. 10. On Sunday, Harvey will face the Padres in his third road start since his promotion. … Collins was interested to read that Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman was ejected from a recent game. “I'm looking for the tape of it,” Collins said. “It's got to be entertaining.” … Word that reliever Frank Francisco lost 20 pounds prompted this comment from Collins: “He's such a big guy, 20 pounds is breakfast.”
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