NEW YORK — Noah Syndergaard had the fans on their feet and the Padres in the palm of his hand. With one pinpoint pitch after another, he nearly turned a sour day for the New York Mets into a thrilling night at Citi Field.
The Mets moved within a game of first-place Washington in the NL East. The teams play three times in Queens this weekend.
"We've got a lot of momentum going forward," Syndergaard said.
Firing his fastball up to 98 mph, Syndergaard (5-5) struck out nine, walked none and allowed only three singles in eight innings. The big right-hander with the long, golden locks outpitched James Shields and avenged a 7-2 loss at San Diego on June 2.
"To be honest, I wasn't really thinking about that outing," Syndergaard said. "A lot's happened in a month and a half.
"I feel like from the moment I made my debut in Chicago," he added, "it's just been a huge transition. ... I've learned so much. I've gained so much confidence."
Making his 14th major league start, Syndergaard lost his bid for a perfect game when Will Venable lined a clean single up the middle on the first pitch of the seventh, prompting a warm ovation from the crowd of 26,034.
Syndergaard said he was well aware he hadn't permitted a runner, but he wasn't thinking too much about it.
"It was kind of in the back of my head from when the game started," he explained. "Everything was working for me."
"Just shows how he's progressing as a pitcher," Duda said.
Syndergaard gave a small fist pump as he walked off the mound and then pitched around Yonder Alonso's leadoff single in the eighth, striking out his final two batters. He threw 70 of 107 pitches for strikes and turned the game over to newcomer Tyler Clippard, who finished a four-hitter in his Mets debut after Granderson homered in the eighth.
"Noah put on a show tonight, so I was happy to keep that zero on the board," Clippard said. "What I saw out there tonight was pretty special."
Clippard was obtained Monday from Oakland for minor league pitcher Casey Meisner to boost a bullpen that suddenly will be without Jenrry Mejia for the rest of the season.
After returning this month from an 80-game drug suspension, Mejia was banned for an additional 162 games Tuesday by Major League Baseball following a second positive test for performance-enhancing substances.
"We just had a tremendous game. I don't need to get socked in the gut again tonight," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Extremely, extremely disappointed in what's happened."
New York and San Diego entered with the lowest batting averages in the majors at .236, and it was the Mets who provided all the offense.
Daniel Murphy singled with two outs in the first and Duda drove an 0-2 pitch from Shields (8-4) halfway up a rarely reached section of stands just to the right of center field.
"It was a two-seam, and it might have been on the black," Shields said. "It was a pretty good pitch. He just pulled his hands inside and made a good swing on it. I mean, nothing else I can do about that."
San Diego was the first big league team to face Syndergaard twice. He gave up a career-high seven runs and 10 hits over four innings in June, though he also struck out 10 and walked none in that game.
This time, he barely got touched.
"His stuff was incredible," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he was "a little surprised" to hear Colorado traded star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto late Monday night. "Our conversations involved more than an inquiry on our part," Alderson said.
Padres: RHP Brandon Morrow (shoulder) is slated to throw 60 pitches Thursday for Triple-A El Paso in his next rehab outing and will probably need one more after that before he is activated, assistant general manager Fred Uhlman Jr. said.
Mets: 3B David Wright (spinal stenosis) took grounders on the field and batting practice indoors, a step forward in his rehabilitation. He remains confident he will return to the lineup this season. ... C Travis d'Arnaud (sprained left elbow) caught nine innings for Double-A Binghamton and went 1 for 4 with a run. He is 5 for 15 in four rehab games. The team hopes d'Arnaud can come off the disabled list in the next few days, Collins said.