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Must C Classic: Isringhausen earns his 300th save

SAN DIEGO -- Monday's game began smoothly for the Mets and ended quite memorably, with Jason Isringhausen's 300th career save. It was the middle third that vexed them and almost sunk them, instead adding a touch of frustration to an otherwise successful day.

In the end, that much hardly seemed to matter. No, R.A. Dickey did not record a victory. But Isringhausen nabbed his milestone save, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole offered a hitting clinic and the Mets -- teetering a bit -- snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-4, 10-inning win over the Padres.

"That's just what's going on right now -- we are not getting any breaks at all," manager Terry Collins said.

Except this one. Stuck in a tie game in the 10th, Padres reliever Josh Spence walked the first two batters he faced to spark a rally. After Ruben Tejada sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Scott Hairston then hit a go-ahead fielder's choice grounder to shortstop.

The Mets did not score again, which was perhaps fitting. Nursing the slimmest of leads, Isringhausen put two men of his own on base before inducing back-to-back groundouts to end the game.

"There's two great storylines," Collins said, referring to both the win and his closer. "A great job for us to hang in there and battle through the whole ballgame."

Though for much of the evening, Dickey was in line to win his second game since June -- allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings -- the Padres tied things when Bobby Parnell allowed a leadoff walk and an RBI single to Jesus Guzman in the eighth. That spoiled Dickey's outing, after he lasted at least six innings while allowing three runs or fewer for the fourth consecutive start.

He is 0-3 over that span.

"It's just been a year where I've really had to fight and nothing's been real clean," Dickey said. "It's been a real grind."

Consider Monday's game a prime example. Though Dickey put the leadoff runner on base in four of the first six innings, he held the Padres to a single run on Kyle Blanks' third-inning single. But a fifth leadoff baserunner doomed him in the seventh, when Will Venable cracked a two-run homer to give the Padres life.

That they did not come all the way back until an inning later was a testament to the knuckleballer.

"Dickey was baffling us at times," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We had a few chances, but we just couldn't break through."

The Mets might have won more easily had Duda's single in the seventh inning not struck umpire Todd Tichenor, resulting in a dead ball and forcing David Wright -- who had initially scored on the play -- to retreat to second base. As a result, the Mets were forced to settle for their early runs alone, all of them the work of Duda and Thole.

Reaching base a combined nine times in 10 plate appearances (the only exception coming on a line-drive out for Duda), those two each homered in the second inning. Thole also added an RBI single in the fourth inning against Padres starter Aaron Harang, who lasted five-plus innings.

It was all little more than an undercard for what was to come. The Mets and Padres traded fruitless rallies in the ninth inning before the climactic 10th, in which the visitors scored and the hosts nearly did the same.

As a result, the Mets won for the first time in six games, and for the first time since beating the Padres at Citi Field last week. Four times now in their last 15 attempts, the Mets have won a baseball game. Three of those times, they have needed late-inning dramatics against the Padres to do so.

So it was on Monday -- on a night in which everything else seemed even, Isringhausen was the difference.

"He did what he's done 299 other times," Dickey said of his closer, "which is pretty neat."

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