NEW YORK -- For four innings on Wednesday afternoon, Clayton Richard was perfect. By the time he finished the fifth, he was trailing.The Padres' veteran left-hander came unglued after an excellent early showing against the Mets at Citi Field. Despite those four perfect frames, Richard allowed six runs over five-plus
NEW YORK -- For four innings on Wednesday afternoon, Clayton Richard was perfect. By the time he finished the fifth, he was trailing.
The Padres' veteran left-hander came unglued after an excellent early showing against the Mets at Citi Field. Despite those four perfect frames, Richard allowed six runs over five-plus innings and San Diego dropped the rubber match, 6-4.
"It went the wrong way fast," Padres manager Andy Green said.
Richard's fifth- and sixth-inning struggles overshadowed encouraging offensive performances from Austin Hedges and Manuel Margot. Both are believed to be pivotal pieces in the future of the club, but both endured brutal starts to the season.
They've since turned a corner. Hedges went 2-for-4 with a homer (which was only confirmed after instant replay proved that the ball hit the wall above the left-field fence before landing in Brandon Nimmo's glove). He's hitting .340 in July.
"It starts with my work, and I feel like my work has been really good and really disciplined," Hedges said. "The more good at-bats I put together, the more I feel like I can keep moving forward."
Margot, meanwhile, went 2-for-4 with a savvy bunt single in the seventh that set the stage for Freddy Galvis' two-run homer to bring the Padres within two. Margot has now hit safely in seven consecutive games. His on-base percentage has jumped by 55 points since the start of June, and it's now up to .316 -- almost league average.
"We've always believed Manny's going to hit," Green said. "The more exciting thing for me today is the bunting game. We've been wanting that to come around. … Manny's doing a lot of really good things out there, offensively and defensively right now, and we're excited about those things."
There are clearly plenty of positives for two key contributors in Margot and Hedges. They've had an excellent month. Richard has not. Wednesday marked the second consecutive start during which he allowed six or more runs. He was removed in the sixth inning after a long home run from Jose Bautista, and his July ERA sits at 8.28.
Still, Richard was done in by some tough luck on Wednesday afternoon. The Mets' go-ahead rally in the fifth inning was a product of four well-placed singles.
"I executed pitches for the most part today," Richard said. "Things just didn't go my way."
Ultimately, the Mets only threatened in the fifth and sixth innings, and they scored multiple runs in both. The Padres threatened often, but they went hitless with men in scoring position.
"We didn't capitalize," Green said. "They did. That's the story of the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In a pickle: The Padres grabbed a two-run lead on Hedges' reviewed home run, but they could've easily had more, if not for a pair of baserunning blunders. Richard followed with a walk, then Travis Jankowski sprayed an apparent single to right. Richard, believing the ball might be caught, stopped on his way to second base, and he was forced out on a nice throw from Bautista. A couple pitches later, Jankowski was picked off by Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki. He broke for second base, where he was caught stealing on a close play. The Padres challenged, to no avail.
Galvis gets two back: Bautista robbed Galvis with a brilliant running grab at the warning track in the fourth. It took extra bases from Galvis and two runs from the Padres. In the seventh, however, Galvis put it where Bautista had no chance -- into the Mets' bullpen. San Diego's shortstop went 8-for-22 on the six-game road trip through his old National League East stomping grounds.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hedges' home run didn't come easy.
"I felt like I hit the ball 500 feet," he said afterward, citing the left-to-right wind at Citi Field.
The ball landed in Nimmo's glove. But it wasn't until he saw a replay on the video board that Hedges realized it hit the wall first, above the fence. Hedges, who had taken a few steps toward the Padres' dugout, saw the replay and returned to the baseline between first and second. He merely resumed his home run trot.
"It was a whirlwind of emotions," Hedges said. "From rock bottom to: 'Nice.'"
HE SAID IT
"Honestly, he makes the ball look really good, and then it drops down to your knees. He's a sinkerballer, so he's going to get a lot of ground balls. … But when it drops from thigh-high to just below the knees, it's really hard to get underneath. I think you saw guys just getting used to him a little bit that first time around the order. Then the second time, third time through, really started to elevate him, and that's what you're trying to do with him. I think he was executing his game plan, and so it just took us a round through the lineup to get to ours." -- Nimmo, on Richard
The Padres return to San Diego for a five-game homestand that begins Friday against Arizona at 7:10 p.m. PT. Luis Perdomo gets the ball. It's a critical test for the 25-year-old right-hander, who posted his best start of the season on Sunday in Philadelphia. He's struggled to maintain consistency throughout his career, and he's specifically had trouble repeating his success against divisional opponents.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.