SAN DIEGO — If you didn’t see where Asdrubal Cabrera’s three-run home run landed late Friday night, his reaction — a subtle bat flip, then a skip and a scowl — told you everything you needed to know.
With two outs in the seventh inning, Cabrera hammered a hanging slider, the first pitch of the night from a Padres reliever, into the rightfield stands for his fifth home run, matching Yoenis Cespedes for the team lead. His big night at the plate backed Jacob deGrom’s masterpiece on the mound in the Mets’ 5-1 win over the Padres.
Matt Harvey, making his second relief appearance of the week, allowed a homer by Franchy Cordero and walked Jose Pirela to begin the ninth. A flyout and double play ended it, however.
It was Harvey’s first time on the mound in the ninth inning since the 2015 World Series.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Harvey, who has allowed two runs in two games (three innings) out of the bullpen. “It’s not ideal with what’s happening, giving up runs in a short period of time. It’s not what I want.”
Said Mickey Callaway: “He was fine.”
Harvey said he had a hard time getting loose enough before entering the game, part of the process of learning how to be a reliever. Callaway suggested taking a weighted ball into the bullpen and periodically making a few tosses during the later innings.
“It’s just a completely different game,” Harvey said. “I just have to do my best to learn from those guys [other relievers] and try to do better.”
Harvey’s faltering resulted in closer Jeurys Familia having to warm up behind him in the bullpen. “We’d always rather avoid that,” Callaway said, “but you have to do what you have to do to win.”
DeGrom (3-0) lasted 7 1⁄3 shutout innings — matching the Mets’ longest start of the year — and scattered five hits and three walks. He struck out eight Padres and threw 110 pitches, his most since July. DeGrom exited to a loud round of applause from Mets fans sitting behind the visitors’ dugout at Petco Park.
DeGrom said with so many hitters trying to lift the ball — i.e., increase their launch angle — he has been throwing his fastball up in the zone more often, resulting in pop-ups.
“He’s got such good life to his fastball, he’s got such good extension, it plays even harder than it already is,” Callaway said. “He does a really good job of elevating against guys.”
San Diego threatened deGrom most in the fifth, when two of the first three Padres reached. DeGrom responded by striking out consecutive batters to end the inning.
In his past three starts, deGrom has lasted at least seven innings each time, struck out 30 batters and lowered his ERA to 2.06.
Cabrera offered most of the offensive support, going 2-for-4 with a double, the homer and a walk. His .333 average is tied for fourth-best in the National League.
“I’m the same guy from last year,” Cabrera said. “The only difference is I’m healthy.”
Said Callaway: “He’s been fantastic.”
Callaway designed a lineup specifically to counter Padres lefthander Clayton Richard (1-3), who is markedly better against lefthanded hitters than righthanded ones. Callaway had the switch-hitting Cabrera leading off, with lefthanded-hitting Michael Conforto dropped down to fifth. It worked immediately but briefly before Richard started to cruise.
Cabrera led off the game with a double to left-center and moved to third on Cespedes’ flyout to right. Todd Frazier sent a grounder through the left side for an RBI single.
That stood as the game’s only run until the seventh. Two of Richard’s last four batters reached, bringing Cabrera to the plate with two out and two on against Craig Stammen.
The Mets added a run in the eighth on Jose Lobaton’s RBI double to right-center. Lobaton finished 2-for-4, matching his hit total from his first 10 games as a Met.