NEW YORK -- Heath Bell was confident in the pitch. It would have taken a Herculean swing, he felt, to do anything with the 0-1 curveball down and away.
Unfortunately for Bell, a member of the Mets from 2004-06, he's seen David Wright bench press. And when the third baseman sat on an outside pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game on Thursday, he did what only he and a few other muscular men could do.
Wright ripped it. He practically threw his bat across the plate and pulled it fair and over Shea Stadium's left-field wall to hand the Mets a 5-3 walk-off win.
"I have to tip my hat to David -- he got the best of me," Bell said. "I don't think most guys could do what he did: stick a bat out there and yank it down the line like he did."
He said it hurt that much more because of comments he's heard from the New York faithful.
"'Hey, Heath, we'd love to have you in this 'pen -- we need you back,'" Bell said of those fan remarks.
"Their bullpen is struggling ... I'm just really ticked off with myself right now."
Jody Gerut almost made the Mets' bullpen issues deafening, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the top of the ninth.
Starting pitcher Josh Banks battled through five-plus innings, holding the Mets' offense to three runs, but it was the Padres' bullpen that faltered late.
San Diego definitely threatened New York. Trailing, 3-1, in the eighth inning, Luis Rodriguez and Edgar Gonzalez both singled off Johan Santana. Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez entered, threw one pitch and promptly hit Scott Hairston. Adrian Gonzalez then singled off Pedro Feliciano to drive home a run and reduce the Mets' lead to one.
Impressive defense helped New York cling to that margin. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a grounder up the middle. Mets second baseman Argenis Reyes dove for it and flipped to Jose Reyes, who then turned and fired to Nick Evans, who had to stretch at full extension to catch the throw.
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"We had a couple opportunities; we just couldn't cash in on them," manager Bud Black said. "[It was] a hard-fought game by both teams."
Black, who watched the final pitch from inside the visitors' clubhouse after being ejected in the middle of the eighth, concurred with Bell that the curveball was a solid choice. The game itself, he said, was even more breathtaking from his desk chair.
"Out of the hand, I thought pretty good pitch, but it was down, and [Wright] sort of got out in front and put the barrel of the bat on it," Black said. "He's a very good player."
San Diego's roster continued to display power of its own, as Chase Headley joined Gerut with a mark in the home run column. Now the Padres are trying to get runners on base, as they have produced just 10 RBIs on their past eight homers.
Gerut, who homered in each of the three games against the Mets, didn't want to say that he's punched through any barriers. Nor did he think San Diego is necessarily at its lowest point.
"You can call it a bottom if you want," Gerut said, using a stock-market analogy. "But nobody will know it's the bottom until after."
The Padres were outscored by five runs in three games, hurt only by their inability to finish off two of them. Bell was unhappy that he didn't win, but confident he threw his best stuff.
"I just tip my hat," he said. "And the next time I go out there, I know I'll probably throw the same pitch and get him out."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.