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SD@NYM: Tejada drives in go-ahead run with walk

The Mets have struck late for two victories against the last-place Padres and have been doing it against some of the best late-inning relievers in the sport.

In Tuesday's 5-4 victory, the Mets tagged Chad Qualls for three earned runs on three hits without recording an out. On Monday, Qualls allowed two runs in the eighth inning before the Mets scored three off All-Star closer Heath Bell to win in the ninth.

It's exactly the type of resiliency Mets manager Terry Collins hopes continues Wednesday night at Citi Field, where the Mets will look for their third straight win behind starter R.A. Dickey. It should come as no surprise to Collins, who's getting an extended look at the young talent with proven everyday commodities such as Jose Reyes, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy out with injuries.

Six current members of the 25-man roster (Justin Turner, Nick Evans, Ryota Igarashi, Jason Pridie, Dillon Gee and Manny Acosta) started the season at Triple-A Buffalo.

"I keep telling them, 'Here's your chance,'" Collins said. "I wish I could tell you how many times in all my years, especially in the Minor Leagues, when we had good, quality Triple-A players who are dying for their opportunity to show they belong in the big leagues, dying for it. Here's the opportunities for guys. There's some guys who've really stepped up and said, 'You know what? You're going to have to make a tough decision in the future, because I'm going to show that I belong.'"

San Diego's bullpen has been a mess through the first two games of this four-game set, but could catch a break with Aaron Harang on the hill Wednesday. It's easy to overlook what Harang has done since signing with his hometown team last offseason.

He's won 10 games this season, despite missing a month with a right foot contusion. His last victory wasn't pretty, as he allowed four runs on 13 hits in five innings of a 15-5 victory against the Pirates on Aug. 5. The Padres' defense bailed him out, though. Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez bounced into a double play in the first, third and fourth innings to keep the Pirates from more damage.

"That was huge," Harang said of the double plays. "If I don't get those ... the score is different. I executed pitches when I had to."

Mets: Pagan excelling in leadoff role

The second stint as the Mets leadoff hitter is going a lot smoother than the first for Angel Pagan.

He reluctantly accepted his spot atop the lineup the first time Jose Reyes landed on the disabled list and batted .192 with a .246 on-base percentage and a .288 slugging percentage.

But he was much more open to the idea when Collins approached him Monday to move back to the top of lineup.

"I think he knows how good he is, I think he's pushing himself to be a better player," Collins said. "He wants to be a power hitter sometimes, because he's got the strength, he can hit homers. I think he's finding out, which I've seen lately, he's starting to realize what he's got to do to help the team he's on be successful. And that is, right now, get on base, play great defense and get yourself in scoring position and let those guys behind you drive you in."

That was evident Tuesday, when Pagan bunted foul the first pitch in the eighth inning from Chad Qualls. Two pitches later, he hit a solo home run to jump-start the three-run frame.

Padres: Guzman on fire

There's going to come a point if Jesus Guzman keeps up his torrid hitting that the question will come up.

Do the Padres miss Adrian Gonzalez?

The rookie is certainly making Padres fans comfortable with him as their future first baseman. Guzman, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games in Tuesday's loss by going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, was hitting at a .378 clip and led all Major League players with 24 RBIs since the All-Star break entering Tuesday.

Worth noting

• Jason Bay's single extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching his longest with the Mets from May 7-17, 2010.

• Harang is a perfect 5-0 in his eight starts away from home this season, with the Padres 7-1 in his road starts on the year. His five-game winning streak on the road is the second longest such streak of his career behind a six-game win streak on the road in 2007. Comments