Padres 9, Mets 4

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NEW YORK (AP)—Phil Nevin gave the San Diego Padres a superb start to a key road swing.

Nevin homered, doubled and drove in five runs and the Padres built a big lead for Jake Peavy in beating the New York Mets 9-4 on Monday night.

Coming off a 2-4 homestand, the Padres opened a 10-game visit to Shea Stadium, Montreal and St. Louis hoping to improve their wild-card position.

“It was a long trip coming in from San Diego,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They came out swinging the bats well. We were jump-started there.”

San Diego roughed up newly promoted Aaron Heilman in going ahead 5-0. Mike Cameron rallied the Mets with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, then Nevin broke it open with a three-run shot in the eighth.

Nevin had an adventuresome evening. He hit a two-run double in the first, singled and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth and later added his 17th homer.

Nevin also committed a pair of errors at first base. He made a wild throw trying to double a runner off second base and let a grounder roll under his glove.

“I guess it’s the old theory, you drive in more runs than you let in,” Nevin said.

The Padres wound up with 13 hits and nine walks.

“Overall, it was just too many walks and too much Phil Nevin,” Mets manager Art Howe said.

Peavy (10-3) began the game with a 2.08 ERA, best among major league pitchers with at least 100 innings. Having missed six weeks because of strained right forearm, he may not pitch enough—162 innings, in most cases—to qualify for the ERA title.

Peavy blanked the Mets on a lone scratch single for five innings. He remained unbeaten since July 7, winning five times during that span—the Padres are 8-0 in his starts since the All-Star break.

The Mets’ only early threat against Peavy came in third after he hit Cliff Floyd slightly above his right elbow with a pitch to load the bases.

Floyd made a perfect throw from left field to cut down Ramon Hernandez at the plate the next inning. Floyd left after that for X-rays on his swollen elbow, which were negative, and he was listed as day-to-day.

Gerald Williams took over for Floyd and doubled to lead off the sixth, and Hidalgo walked. Cameron followed with his 27th home run—he extended his career high and also set a Mets record for most homers by a center fielder, surpassing Tommie Agee’s 26 in 1969.

Peavy “lost his command a little, lost a little of his sharpness,” Bochy said. “Up until then, he was pretty nasty.”

A single and two-base error by Nevin at first base let the Mets put the tying runs in scoring position later in the inning, but Scott Linebrink came in and retired rookie Jeff Keppinger on a foul pop and struck out Eric Valent to keep it at 5-3.

Heilman (0-1) lasted only 3 2-3 innings after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day to pitch in the majors for the first time this season. He gave up four runs, and it could’ve been worse as he allowed eight hits and three walks.

“I can’t afford to go into the fourth inning and not go deeper into the game,” Howe said.

The Mets need another starter now that recently acquired Victor Zambrano is hurt. Matt Ginter was sent down to the minors to make room for Heilman.

Mark Loretta drew a one-out walk in the first, Brian Giles doubled and Nevin also doubled for a 2-0 lead.

Sean Burroughs and Freddy Guzman hit RBI singles in the fourth. A wild pitch by Dan Wheeler with the bases loaded and Peavy batting with a 1-2 count brought in another run.

Nevin homered off rookie Bartolome Fortunato. Mets rookie David Wright homered in the eighth against Ricky Stone, and Loretta added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Notes

Padres LHP Sterling Hitchcock will be put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and RHP Dennis Tankersley will be called up from Triple-A Portland. Hitchcock left Sunday’s start because of a problem in his elbow, and an MRI exam Monday showed no structural damage. The Padres hope he’ll be ready to return in three weeks. … Wright is 13-for-32 (.406) during a seven-game hitting streak. … Mets RHP Mike DeJean, who was hit in the right leg by a line drive during batting practice last week in Colorado, felt a twinge while warming up Monday. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday.

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