NEW YORK — Mets Manager Terry Collins walked to the mound with two outs in the first inning knowing his pitching plan was already scrapped. Still, he had one request for an ailing Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“I went out there and asked him if he could finish the inning,” Collins said. “He said ‘I have no strength but I can finish the inning.’ We had to get him out of there.”
Pitching with a severely upset stomach, Matsuzaka took several deep breaths to compose himself then got Chase Headley to ground out to end the inning.
Carlos Torres took over from there and, with the backing Curtis Granderson’s first lead-off homer in five years, New York beat the San Diego Padres 3-1 on June 15.
Bobby Abreu added an RBI double in the first and Daniel Murphy had a sacrifice fly in the second against a shaky Ian Kennedy (5-8), helping New York take the rubber game in a series between the worst hitting teams in the majors.
On a day Collins said he needed seven innings from Matsuzaka to help cover for a depleted bullpen, the right-hander became sick before the game.
“I knew I wasn’t physically fit to fill the starter’s role but I wanted to do as much as I could,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. “That ended up being only one inning.”
Matsuzaka gingerly walked off the mound when he was done, shook hands with Collins and headed straight for the clubhouse.
Collins hopes Matsuzaka is healthy enough to offer some help out of the bullpen June 16 when the Mets face the Cardinals in St. Louis. The 34-year-old Japanese pitcher has made 16 relief appearances and four starts this season so he is comfortable pitching out of the ‘pen if he has to.
“If I’m physically fit,” he said, “I’d definitely like to help with the bullpen.”
Torres (3-4) relieved Matsuzaka to start the second, and the late-inning reliever looked unsettled. He gave up three straight singles, including Rene Rivera’s RBI infield hit. But he didn’t give up another hit in four innings, tossing a season-high 63 pitches.
“We’re ready to do our job,” Torres said. “This obviously was an extreme situation.”
Vic Black pitched two scoreless innings and Jenrry Mejia made his first appearance since leaving a June 12 game with a stiff back, working two hitless innings for his seventh save.
While the Mets used five extra-base hits — two doubles by Lucas Duda — in improving to 5-9 for June, San Diego only had four hits in falling to falling to 3-10 for the month.
Batting .215 as a team, the Padres made several mental mistakes on the basepaths. In one case, Manager Bud Black had several words for pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista when he returned to the dugout in the seventh after failing to run out a grounder that Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores bobbled.
“It’s not lack of effort. I know that. I think Lexi thought the ball was caught by the shortstop,” Black said. “I know it looks a little ugly on television but no, not lack of effort at all by any of those guys.”
Atop the order for the first time this season and back in the starting lineup for the first time since June 11 (calf injury), Granderson sent a 1-0 pitch from Kennedy halfway up the porch in right field for his first leadoff homer since 2009 with Detroit and 25th overall.
“I have no clue where it went,” Granderson said of the long homer. Granderson also singled and walked twice.
Murphy then doubled to left field, David Wright walked and Abreu doubled in a run. But the Mets failed to add on against a shaky Kennedy, stranding runners on second and third.
“I just didn’t have that put away pitch. I didn’t have that put away curveball until later in the game,” Kennedy said. “For me, it was a constant battle throughout the whole day. They did a good job hitting — even on some of those breaking balls that wasn’t down enough.”
(HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer)