SAN DIEGO (AP) - Mat Latos' numbers look nothing like they did last season when he led the San Diego Padres on a playoff chase that went to the final day of the season.
Latos surrendered a three-run homer to David Wright and the New York Mets won their first series in San Diego in more than nine years with a 7-3 win over the Padres on Wednesday.
For Latos (6-12), this season has been a struggle from the outset as he lost his first five decisions over six starts and was 1-6 after eight starts.
But the 23-year-old Latos, who finished 14-10 last season as he lost his last five starts, thinks he has seen improvement of late.
``I feel like I'm hitting a decent stride,' he said. ``I've been making pitches when I need to.'
The one pitch that cost him was Wright's three-run blast in the third that gave the Mets a 3-0 lead.
``Just a fastball out over the plate to one of the best players in our league,' San Diego manager Bud Black said about Wright's homer. ``He showed it in this series defensively and he swung the bat, also.'
Since his slow start, Latos has rebounded. The right-hander gave up three runs and four hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked two. It was the 10th consecutive start he gave up three earned runs or less.
In the 10-start span since June 27, Latos has gone 2-4 with a 3.34 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 18 walks in 64 2-3 innings.
``His stuff is very comparable to last year right now,' Black said. ``He's using the four pitches, the velocity is there. He's throwing the ball well.'
Angel Pagan added three RBIs for New York and rookie Dillon Gee (11-4) limited the Padres to one run and five hits.
The right-hander, who pitched 6 2-3 innings, made a sparkling fielding play in the third that resulted in an inning-ending double play.
Wright's homer off Latos was his 10th. He became just the second Met to hit at least 10 homers in his first eight seasons with club, according to statistics provided by the Mets from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Since returning from the disabled list on July 22, Wright is batting .314 (32 of 102) with four homers and 21 RBIs.
Pagan had two hits, including a two-run double in the eighth inning when the Mets scored three times to increase their lead to 7-1.
The last time New York won a series in San Diego was May 2002 at Qualcomm Stadium. Since Petco Park opened in 2004, the Mets are 9-18.
New York won for only the fifth time in 17 games overall.
San Diego had seven hits, including five doubles, after reaching double figures in hits in the first two games of the series.
The Mets' outstanding defensive plays came in consecutive innings.
In the third, Gee snared a hard, one-hop grounder from Jason Bartlett with a no-look flick of his glove behind his back. Gee started the inning-ending double play with a throw to shortstop Rueben Tejada.
Cameron Maybin walked leading off the fourth and advanced to second on a groundout. With two outs, Logan Forsythe hit a hard grounder down the third base line. Wright dived to make the grab at the line, got up quickly and looked like he was going to make the long throw to first base.
Maybin was running from second base on the play and passed in front of Wright. Maybin hit third base and drifted a few feet past the bag. Wright then tucked the ball in and dived toward the bag as he tagged out a retreating Maybin.
Trailing 4-0, the Padres finally got to Gee when Orlando Hudson doubled leading off the seventh and scored on Aaron Cunningham's one-out double. After Gee issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Kyle Blanks, Tim Byrdak came in and walked pinch-hitter James Darnell to load the bases. Manny Acosta then struck out Bartlett to end the threat.
NOTES: The Padres, last in the NL West at 55-70, are 25-26 since June 21. ... New York has allowed two or more runs in 37 consecutive games. ... The Mets failed to hit a double, snapping their streak of 14 straight games. ... San Diego RHP Tim Stauffer (7-9, 3.53), who has allowed 13 earned runs in his last two starts, will face Florida's Javier Vazquez (7-10, 4.68) when the Marlins open a four-game series Thursday night. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey (6-9. 4.53 ERA), who faced three batters in a relief appearance Tuesday night, will start for the Mets Friday night against Milwaukee RHP Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.50).
The Associated Press News Service
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