NEW YORK – Baseball's best bullpen has sprung a leak in New York.
"We don't see it very often," Padres starter Wade LeBlanc said. "When it happens it's rare, but it's even more rare when it happens two nights in a row. You've got to cut those guys some slack. They've been amazing for the last few years. It's going to happen to everybody and they're going to be just fine."
The last-place Padres arrived in New York with a four-game winning streak and the best bullpen ERA in the majors. But they sent stellar setup man Mike Adams to Texas at the July 31 trade deadline, and replacement Chad Qualls has struggled at Citi Field.
San Diego said the last time it lost consecutive games when leading by at least two runs in the eighth inning or later was July 1995 at Houston, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"We're not used to it," shortstop Jason Bartlett said. "But I've been around a while and guys aren't perfect. I've seen the best give up runs, and you can't say much because those guys have been great all year."
Angel Pagan homered off Qualls to start New York's latest comeback and Jason Isringhausen earned his 299th save. The Mets, who trailed by four runs in the eighth inning Monday and by two in the eighth on Tuesday, won both games to move back above .500 (58-57).
The Mets said the last time they won consecutive games when trailing by two or more in the eighth inning or later was April 1965 at San Francisco, according to Elias.
"We like to fight to the end. That's the team that we are," Pagan said.
Orlando Hudson, starting in the cleanup spot for the first time in his 10-year career, hit an RBI double for the Padres before leaving with a strained right groin. He is day to day.
LeBlanc returned from a brief trip to the minors and pitched six solid innings. He was in line for his first major league victory in almost a year before the depleted Mets fought back again.
"They're doing a good job of battling for nine innings, those guys. And our guys are, too," LeBlanc said. "They've been two close games and we've just come out on the wrong end."
Pagan, the team's new leadoff man because of an injury to Jose Reyes, homered for the second consecutive night when he connected on an 0-2 pitch from Qualls (5-6) to start the eighth.
Ronny Paulino walked to load the bases and the 21-year-old Tejada, filling in at shortstop for Reyes, worked his way back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk that put New York ahead.
"I felt I made my pitches but at the same time I didn't adjust to the strike zone like I should have and fell behind. It's just unfortunate — Wade definitely deserved to win tonight," Spence said. "To Tejada, I just was erratic and you can't do that. That's the winning run."
D.J. Carrasco (1-2) replaced an injured Manny Acosta in the eighth and escaped a jam unscathed.
Isringhausen pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season.
"It was probably better tonight because I didn't have time to think," Isringhausen said.
Bartlett hit an RBI double and Jesus Guzman doubled twice for the Padres.
Heavy rain all afternoon kept the tarp on the field and canceled batting practice, but the game started on time and finished without interruption.
The score was tied at 2 in the fifth when San Diego mounted a two-out rally against starter Chris Capuano. Cameron Maybin singled and scored on Bartlett's double to deep right. Guzman followed with an RBI double to make it 4-2.
Capuano gave up two runs in the fourth, but the Mets scored twice in the bottom half.
Duda singled for the fifth straight plate appearance, including a two-run hit off All-Star closer Heath Bell that gave New York a 9-8 victory Monday night.
Bay reached on an infield single and Scott Hairston hit an RBI double high off the 16-foot fence in left-center. Paulino's sacrifice fly tied it.
Hudson hurt himself chasing a foul ball in the fourth, a Padres spokesman said, and was lifted for pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez in the fifth. Gonzalez remained in the game at second base.
NOTES: Padres 3B James Darnell went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a double-play grounder in his major league debut. ... Paulino threw out Maybin trying to steal second in the seventh. That snapped a streak of 21 successful stolen base attempts by Maybin, caught for the first time since April 29. ... Hudson has been on the DL twice this season, because of a strained left groin and a strained right hamstring. ... Maybin charged in for a terrific tumbling catch in center to rob Turner of a hit.