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Harvey does it all in a night of firsts

Rookie Matt Harvey already has accomplished two things no other pitcher in Mets history can match, striking out 11 batters in his Major League debut and 18 over his first two starts.

Now the 23-year-old right-hander will get a shot at the club with the National League's lowest-scoring offense at home when the Mets close out a three-game series against the Padres on Sunday in San Diego. New York is coming off a victory on Saturday that evened the series and brought them to 6-4 entering the final game of their road trip.

Harvey has started two of those contests, winning the first and losing the second on Tuesday at San Francisco. He limited the Giants to two earned runs on four hits in six innings, walking three and striking out seven, although he wasn't satisfied afterward.

"I don't like to lose," Harvey said. "Whether I'm pitching or whether I'm not, I don't like to lose. It's how I am. In my world, I would have thrown up more zeros and kept us closer."

Still, the Mets' first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft made another positive impression on manager Terry Collins.

"This guy's big and strong," Collins said. "I just like the way he works. I just like his composure on the mound. It doesn't seem like he gets very rattled when he's out there. He knows what he has to do. He tries to make pitches, doesn't give in. I tell you, I've been pretty impressed. I thought for sure you'd see a good arm coming up here, but he knows what he's doing out there."

Harvey will match up against a fellow first-round pick in the Padres' Jason Marquis, although the Braves selected the veteran righty way back in 1996. Now on his eighth big league team and second this season, Marquis is 6-10 with a 5.54 ERA overall and 4-6 with a 4.08 mark in 12 starts with San Diego.

Marquis has credited improved spin on his breaking ball and his work with pitching coach Darren Balsley for his improved performance. Petco Park also has helped, with Marquis sporting a 3.60 ERA there.

On Tuesday at Cincinnati, he lasted 6 1/3 innings despite giving up seven earned runs on eight hits, including three homers. Marquis did settle down after a five-run third.

"I wasn't too good early on. ... I got some balls up and fell behind," he said. "But I tried to stay out there and battle the best that I could."

Mets: Bay's absence not a sign of things to come
Jason Bay's didn't appear in Saturday night's win, with Jordany Valdespin starting in left field instead.

But Collins said that was the result of wanting to send as many lefties as possible against Padres starter Edinson Volquez, rather than a sign that Bay will see a reduced role. The Mets skipper said Bay will return on Sunday.

Bay has struggled all season, and that situation only has worsened in the 17 games since he returned from the disabled list. He has gone 6-for-53 (.113) in that span, with one home run -- his only extra-base hit -- and 16 strikeouts.

• Harvey will make his Citi Field debut on Friday against the Braves.

Padres: Alonso enjoying all-around success
San Diego manager Bud Black has lauded first baseman Yonder Alonso's defense of late, with the rookie showing an aptitude for picking throws out of the dirt and good awareness around the bag. The 25-year-old has displayed a marked progression since some early struggles.

"You wipe out the first six weeks, he's played really solid defense," Black said. "I think in April and early May there are some things he would definitely want to do over. ... He's been much more fundamentally sound around the bag. ... He is much improved."

Alonso also has contributed with the bat lately. He went 1-for-4 on Saturday but hit .394 with a .412 on-base percentage and .667 slugging percentage over his previous eight games. He smacked six doubles in that stretch and another on Saturday, giving him a rookie-best 30 for the year.

• Everth Cabrera is 19-for-19 in stolen-base attempts this season and 34-for-34 including his numbers from Triple-A Tucson.

Worth noting
• The Mets have a 4-2 lead in the season series, which will end on Sunday.

• Marquis is facing New York for the first time this season, and he has struggled over the years with Bay and David Wright. Bay is 16-for-45 (.356) with four doubles, a triple and five home runs, while Wright is 14-for-34 (.412) with three doubles and two home runs.

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