SAN DIEGO -- A few hours after his manager said he wanted Mets rookie Matt Harvey to learn how to pitch through adversity, Padres hitters obliged him.
Harvey, making his third start for New York, absorbed more punishment in the first three innings on Sunday than he had in his 11 1/3 innings since his promotion.
En route to San Diego's 7-3 victory at Petco Park that decided the three-game series, the Padres tagged Harvey's high changeups and straight fastballs for two home runs, two doubles, a leadoff triple and five runs, all before the fourth inning.
Mets manager Terry Collins may want to ask for a winning lottery ticket the next time he answers reporters' questions before a game. About three hours before Harvey threw his first pitch on Sunday, here's what Collins said about the right-hander, who'd fashioned a 1.59 ERA through two starts:
"If he's going to learn to pitch here, he's going to have to learn to get through some rough outings. I truly believe major league pitchers have to learn to pitch out of some jams," Collins said.
The comments, prompted by a question, came as part of the manager's explanation that he'll not yank Harvey from a game in response to his season workload approaching any ceiling the Mets may have set. If it meant allowing Harvey the chance to learn from the school of hard knocks, Collins said he'd stick with the right-hander.
Collins was true to his word. He stayed with the 23-year-old after the Padres built a 5-0 lead. Harvey (1-2) responded with two scoreless innings, although it took escaping a leadoff double in the fourth and a two-out double in the fifth.
Harvey also left the Padres' Will Venable on base after a leadoff triple in the second.
It's possible that Harvey, drafted seventh overall in 2010, learned more about pitching on Sunday than he had in his major league debut at Phoenix, in which he struck out 11 over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, or the six-inning, three-run (two earned) performance that followed at San Francisco.
Chase Headley gave the Padres a 2-0 lead in the first when he lifted a changeup onto the right-field scoreboard for his 15th home run and second in two nights.
Yonder Alonso brought in two more runs with his sixth home run in the third, one at-bat after Padres cleanup man Carlos Quentin belted a 400-foot RBI double.
Harvey had thrown 81 pitches and allowed eight hits -- seven for extra bases -- when Collins sent up Ronny Cedeno to pinch hit with the Padres ahead 5-0 in the fifth.
Cedeno slugged a home run off Jason Marquis (5-6) to make it 5-2.
In the seventh, the Mets' Jason Bay hit a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Collins said he believes leadoff man Ruben Tejada can gain 12-15 inches in base-stealing speed early next spring training, provided he's in camp on time for tutorials from first-base coach Tom Goodwin. A little more speed could allow the leadoff man to steal 15 bases, Collins said. Tejada, a late arrival to spring training this year, was caught stealing Sunday for the second time in three attempts . . .Alonso hit his 31st double, most among major league rookies.