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SD@NYM: Padres fall to Mets on walk-off hit in ninth

NEW YORK -- For the steel-trap memory Padres manager Bud Black seems to have been blessed with -- try grilling him on minute and trivial details from his 15-year playing career -- his total recall on meltdowns by San Diego's bullpen rates rather poorly.

"It's a rarity," Black said.

That could be because the Padres, who had won 187 consecutive games when leading by two or more runs in the ninth inning, according to Elias, went into Monday's game with a 44-1 record in games they led after eight innings -- a testament to one of baseball's most reliable bullpens.

Make that 44-2, after Lucas Duda capped a frantic Mets comeback with a two-run, game-winning single in the ninth inning off Heath Bell to defeat the Padres, 9-8, before a crowd of 21,814 fans at Citi Field.

The Mets, who saw their 4-1 lead evaporate as the Padres rallied to bring an 8-4 edge in the eighth inning, scored three runs in the ninth off of All-Star closer Bell, who blew his third save of the season.

Bell retired one hitter in the inning and allowed an RBI single to David Wright in the at-bat that preceded Duda's walk-off knock.

"He's got some good stuff. He was throwing hard. I was looking for a fastball, I got one, and it had some eyes," Duda said of his game-winning hit up the middle and into center field. "It found a hole and we won, so that was good."

It appeared the Padres were on their way to victory -- which would have been their season-best fifth consecutive win -- especially after rallying against the Mets' bullpen with four runs in the eighth, a frame capped by Jason Bartlett's three-run double.

"Down, 4-1, we come back to make it 8-4 ... our guys battled back and had good at-bats," Black said.

The Padres had eight runs on 12 hits, continuing an offensive surge from their weekend sweep of the Pirates, against whom they scored 35 runs in three games.

Cameron Maybin had three hits, while Jesus Guzman had two hits and drove in a pair of runs to give him 28 RBIs in 39 games. Kyle Blanks and Luis Martinez each had two hits, as did Bartlett, none bigger than his two-out double off Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi.

"I made two bad pitches and it cost the Padres a game," Bell said of the single by Wright and Duda's game-winner. "I feel bad. The guys were grinding the whole game, and they worked hard to come back. I blew it right there."

The loss on Monday marked only the third time since the start of the 2009 season -- when Bell took over as full-time closer after Trevor Hoffman left -- that Bell has allowed three or more runs in a single appearance.

"It's how the game goes," said Padres' pitcher Tim Stauffer, who overcame a shaky start to pitch seven innings. "Not that many teams have done that to us. ... Maybe we take it a little harder because it doesn't happen to us that often."

Stauffer was in line for his eighth victory of the season before Chad Qualls allowed two runs in the eighth inning and before the Mets got to Bell in the ninth.

Not a bad finish, considering Stauffer yielded home runs to Angel Pagan, Jason Bay and Wright in the first three innings alone as the Padres fell behind, 4-1.

But Stauffer only allowed one hit over his final four innings and a total of two baserunners (he hit a batter) to get through seven.

"I think I had a little life [on his fastball], sometimes it takes a while to get loose. I think my execution and my velocity were better," said Stauffer, who allowed four runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

After retiring 15 of the final 17 hitters he faced, Stauffer turned the ball and the lead over to the bullpen. In the eighth inning, Qualls allowed a pinch-hit RBI double to former San Diego outfielder Mike Baxter. Ronny Paulino followed with a sacrifice fly.

In the ninth inning, Jason Pridie singled to right field and moved to second base on a wild pitch. After Pagan stuck out, Justin Turner singled to left and Wright scored Pridie when he singled to center.

That set the stage for the heroics by Duda, who had three hits, none nearly as big as the last one.

"I think our bullpen has shown over time how good they are," Black said. "But this game shows that our pitchers aren't invincible."

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