SAN DIEGO -- The first wave arrived last year in the form of pitching phenom Matt Harvey.

This season, the tide continued to bring along more talent as Zack Wheeler joined the starting rotation. Wilmer Flores filled in for David Wright. And Saturday night, catcher Travis d'Arnaud entered the fray, the latest of the Mets' minor-leaguers to graduate.

If all goes according to plan, this group of players will form the core of the Mets' next winning team. And for the first time in an actual big-league game, a cluster of them shared the same clubhouse.

Yet for all the talk of the future, the Mets could not escape their present Saturday night.

In an 8-2 loss to the Padres, righthander Jenrry Mejia was forced to leave the game in the fourth inning with an elbow injury. He had pitched through elbow pain caused by bone spurs, though he admitted that the symptoms had never been worse.

Said Mejia: "Not like today.''

He allowed one run in the first three innings, then gave way to David Aardsma, who was roughed up for three runs. Nick Hundley delivered the biggest blow in the Padres' three-run fourth when he bashed a two-run homer against Aardsma. The righthander's ERA has climbed to 4.50.

Jedd Gyorko crushed a three-run homer off Carlos Torres in the eighth to make it a rout.

After absorbing a three-game sweep by the Dodgers early last week, the Mets need a victory in Sunday's series finale to even their record at 5-5 on this road trip.

A win with Harvey on the mound also would preserve the Mets' chances of a winning trip if they can win Monday's makeup game in Minnesota.

"We're playing OK,'' manager Terry Collins said. "We're hanging in there. Cripes, we knew going in this was going to be a tough trip, and it is tough.''

The Mets chased Padres starter Edinson Volquez after five innings but scratched out only two runs against the righthander. Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis delivered RBI singles, but the Mets got little else.

The defeat dampened what could emerge as an important day in franchise history.

D'Arnaud was the sixth Met to make his major-league debut this season. He finished 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, though it hardly was enough to spare the Mets from a loss.


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