NEW YORK (AP) - One pitch at a time, Oliver Perez and the New York Mets started settling into their new home Wednesday night.
Perez rebounded from a rough season debut and the Mets earned their first victory at Citi Field, beating the bumbling San Diego Padres 7-2 before a crowd of 35,581 that was about 6,200 short of capacity.
Carlos Delgado homered and Perez pitched six smooth innings to help New York end San Diego's five-game winning streak. The Padres spoiled Monday night's opener at the charming ballpark with a 6-5 victory over the mistake-prone Mets.
"We're starting to learn kind of the ins and outs, defensive positioning, some of the bounces off the walls," third baseman David Wright said. "We're starting to feel like this is a pretty good home-field advantage for us, and slowly but surely learn the playing surface."
After giving up eight runs and five walks in 4 1-3 innings against Cincinnati last week, Perez (1-1) held the Padres to one run and three hits. The often-erratic lefty walked two and struck out four.
"Like I've always said, Oliver seems to throw some of his best games after some of his worst," Wright said.
Bobby Parnell, J.J. Putz and Sean Green finished up as New York celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with a comfortable win.
One home run shy of 500, Gary Sheffield got his first start for
the Mets, in right field. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and scored a
Making his first start in the outfield since May 16 last year
with Detroit, Sheffield handled two fly balls without a problem.
The 40-year-old slugger signed with the Mets on April 4, four days
after he was released by the Tigers in a surprise move.
"It felt good," Sheffield said. "I'm not familiar with the National League anymore. It's been awhile."
It wasn't all good news on Wednesday for the Mets, however. No.
2 starter Mike Pelfrey has tendinitis in his pitching forearm and
could miss his next scheduled start Sunday against Milwaukee.
Perez, able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes, gave his
teammates a lift.
"Tonight really wasn't maybe his best stuff, so not to have your best stuff and then to have the ability to pitch and have success, that's a good sign," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.
San Diego threw the ball all over the place in the seventh
inning - except over the plate. Three walks, a wild pitch, a passed
ball and an ugly error helped New York score four runs on one hit,
a bunt single by Luis Castillo.
Luke Gregerson opened the inning by throwing 10 straight balls
before he was lifted for Edward Mujica. On the next pitch, Castillo
dropped a nice bunt toward third that loaded the bases.
"Since I throw a lot of sinkers, once it gets out there, it
starts running away from me. I lost my release point," Gregerson
With pinch-hitter Ryan Church facing an 0-2 count, Sheffield
scored when Mujica uncorked a high wild pitch. After Church struck
out and Jose Reyes was intentionally walked, Daniel Murphy's
sacrifice fly made it 4-1 Mets.
Castillo scored from third on a passed ball. Reyes stole second
on the same delivery and raced all the way around the bases when
catcher Nick Hundley threw wildly toward the plate for an error in
an attempt to get Castillo.
"It was a bad inning," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Walks
are part of it, there's no question. You can't walk guys and have
wild pitches, especially in the late innings."
In the eighth, Delgado hit a leadoff homer against Luis Perdomo
into the second deck in right field. It was a harsh hello for
Perdomo, who was facing his first batter in the majors.
"That ball's down and in. That's his happy zone. You throw
pitches like that all night, he'll hit home runs every time up,"
Adrian Gonzalez homered in the ninth for the Padres, his second
of the series.
New York loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on
singles by Murphy and Wright, plus a walk to Delgado. Carlos
Beltran hit an RBI single off starter Kevin Correia (0-1), and
another run scored when Sheffield grounded into a double play.
San Diego cut it to 2-1 in the fifth on Scott Hairston's two-out
RBI single, but Perez limited the damage.
"We just have to forget what happened yesterday and the last
game," Perez said. "I had a really good changeup today, my slider
was good and everything was working."