Tatis leads Mets over the Padres

August 5, 2008 9:24:43 PM PDT
After mixing and matching his way through a nervous ninth inning, Mets manager Jerry Manuel sat down behind the microphone and took a long drink. "I feel like I need to be turning that water into wine," he said with a chuckle, holding up his plastic bottle for effect.

Hours after the Mets put All-Star closer Billy Wagner on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left forearm, New York's makeshift bullpen managed to close out the San Diego Padres 6-5 Tuesday night.

But it wasn't easy.

Aaron Heilman gave up a three-run homer before Scott Schoeneweis earned the save, ensuring that Fernando Tatis' two homers and four RBIs didn't get wasted.

By the time it was over, Manuel wasn't sure who his closer would be going forward.

"I'm going to have to be very careful, cautious, with handling this bullpen situation," he said. "I don't want to discourage anyone, but at the same time I want people to step up."

Wagner's injury is a major blow to New York as it pursues a playoff spot, even though the lefty has squandered seven of 34 save chances. Schoeneweis became the first Mets reliever besides Wagner to earn a save this season when he retired Brian Giles on his only pitch.

Mike Pelfrey (10-7) pitched effectively into the seventh inning to help the Mets end a four-game skid.

Before the game, Manuel said Heilman, his struggling setup man, would get the first shot at closing duties in Wagner's absence. It didn't last long.

Handed a four-run cushion when he entsolo shot in the fourth before he was lifted by manager Bud Black after 98 pitches.

With Young out of the game, the Mets quickly made their move.

After striking out twice against Young, Beltran singled off Mike Adams (1-1) to put runners at first and second. Tatis then hooked a 2-2 pitch into the left-field corner for his 101st major league homer and ninth this season, giving New York a 4-2 lead.

With the crowd chanting his name, Tatis came out for a curtain call. He tossed his head back to soak it all in and pointed two fingers toward the sky.

"All of Shea Stadium cheering for my name - it's unbelievable," Tatis said. "It's amazing for me."

Tatis extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his eighth career multihomer game and first since Sept. 16, 2000, with St.


Out of baseball from 2004-05, the 33-year-old Tatis has given the Mets a crucial and surprising boost since he was called up from the minors May 13. Filling in regularly for injured outfielders Moises Alou and Ryan Church, Tatis has piled up 33 RBIs with a string of clutch homers and hits.

"It's been a nice resurrection for them - and for him," Black said.

Daniel Murphy added a run-scoring double in the seventh off Clay Hensley for his first extra-base hit and RBI in the majors.

Notes: Adams allowed his first runs since July 4. ... With Shea Stadium set to be demolished after this season, fans and collectors can buy seats from the 44-year-old ballpark - for $869 per pair - online at Mets.com beginning Aug. 25.