SAN DIEGO -- Things didn't look good for Carlos Quentin as he rounded third and headed for home in the seventh inning of a tie game Friday.
First of all, he'd gotten a late jump off second base and taken an uncomfortable route around third. As he did, he saw John Baker, the on-deck batter, motioning vehemently for him to slide, a sure sign that he was in trouble. Then he saw the ball in Mets catcher Josh Thole's glove.
It didn't stay there for long. Quentin lowered his shoulder and knocked the ball from Thole's larger-than-usual catcher's mitt to score the go-ahead run in a 3-1 Padres win.
"I knew the play was going to be tight, and all of a sudden he had the ball really early," Quentin said. "I obviously was not trying to cause any damage to Josh Thole. It was just a hard play, and obviously as a runner I'm just hoping the ball comes loose, and it did."
"It's frustrating because the play at the plate, that's the game," Thole said. "I hold onto that ball, [Yonder] Alonso stays at second and it's two outs. It changes the whole dynamic of the game."
"I felt like Quentin was out by 10 feet," said Alonso, whose Major League rookie-leading 29th double sent Quentin barreling toward the plate. "It was a big part of the game - it was a 1-1 game, and for him to do that, it was perfect."
For the first few innings, the Padres looked about as likely to pull out a win as Quentin did to salvage his fateful trip around the bases. Mets starter R.A. Dickey was masterful, not yielding a hit until an Alonso single in the fifth inning and striking out nine in seven innings of work.
"It stings a little bit because we should have won that game," Dickey said. "We've got to win games like that to compete and have a shot at working our way back into this thing. ... That's a game that I think everybody in here thought we should have won."
"Dickey's stuff was nasty tonight," said Alonso, the lone Padre with a multi-hit showing in the game. "I felt like he was throwing it in the strike zone when he wanted to, throwing balls when he wanted to, making guys chase it, or making guys not swing at what we wanted to swing at. That was tough, but he got a little bit more tired and he started to leave things up."
That's what happened on Alonso's double and again when Baker singled home the Padres' third run just moments after the play at the plate.
Those three runs were more than enough for the win thanks in part to seven innings of one-run ball from Clayton Richard, who scattered eight hits while crafting his 13th quality start of the season in typical Clayton Richard fashion: by throwing strikes and getting ground balls.
"It's a great sign. We've seen him better and he goes seven-plus and gives up one run," Padres manager Bud Black said. "That's where he is right now in his game: We expect those type of outings from Clayton. He got his ground balls. ... He held them at bay."
Richard turned things over to his bullpen in the eighth, when righty Luke Gregerson found himself in a no-out, two-on situation with the top of the Mets order coming up. He proceeded to strike out No. 2 hitter Andres Torres and superstar David Wright.
The Mets then called upon pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jordany Valdespin with two outs and two on, and Black opted to bring in All-Star Huston Street to shut things down. He did, getting Valdespin before working a perfect ninth to record his 18th save in 18 chances this year and extend his scoreless-innings streak to 17 1/3.
The loss was just the third of the season for Dickey, who dominated the Padres when the two teams met in New York earlier this season, much -- as Quentin pointed out -- as he did Friday. Ironic then, that the larger-than-usual catcher's glove designed to rein in that devastating knuckler, helped to concede the run that propelled the Padres to a hard-fought win.
"I don't think you ever get used to [the knuckler]," Black said. "I just saw the look in some guys' eyes when they came back to the dugout. It's not comfortable, put it that way. ... The best part of the day is when a knuckleball pitcher leaves the game."
"R.A. Dickey's a very good pitcher. ... We weren't having much success against him," Quentin said. "But we found a way to get runs on the board."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.