NEW YORK -- Carlos Gomez or no, the Mets were two strikes away from a series win over the Padres on Thursday afternoon heading into this weekend's showdown with the first-place Nationals.
Then Justin Upton squeezed a go-ahead three-run homer into the seven-minute span between ninth-inning rain delays, leading the Padres to an 8-7 victory. Jeurys Familia blew his third save in three attempts for New York since the All-Star break, after going 27-for-29 in the first half.
"That was wild, man," Upton said. "Games like that are fun to watch and fun to be a part of." More >
Curtis Granderson launched a three-run homer in the fifth inning to help build a six-run Mets lead. But Derek Norris sparked San Diego's comeback with a grand slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, and Upton capped it with his three-run homer in the ninth. Familia recorded two quick outs before a 44-minute rain delay, then gave up consecutive singles and Upton's homer after it. Seconds later, Citi Field's grounds crew brought the tarp back to the field for a second delay, which lasted two hours and 52 minutes.
"Any time you lose a game this time of year, they're tough to take," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We're fighting hard to get a big lead, and to see it dwindle as fast as it did, these are tough ones." More >
Mets starter Jon Niese escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to deliver six innings of one-run ball, while Andrew Cashner allowed seven runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings. In perhaps his final start as a Padre with Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline looming, Cashner allowed his 14th home run -- already twice as many as he gave up all of last season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rain, rain go away: Once the tarp came off the first time, Norris and Matt Kemp rapped out consecutive singles to put the tying runs on base. Upton then launched his three-run shot to center field, giving the Padres their first lead of the day. The second delay followed, forcing both teams into the comfort of their clubhouse. Collins and Familia insisted afterward that the delay did not affect the Mets, with Collins adding that Familia is still his closer despite his struggles since the All-Star break. More >
Touch 'em all: Not to be outdone by Lucas Duda's recent string of tape-measure homers, Granderson launched a 408-foot shot (per Statcast™) off Cashner to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark in the fifth. The home run was Granderson's fifth extra-base hit in his past five games. Three innings later, he ended the top of the eighth with a diving catch to rob Alexi Amarista of an RBI hit.
Five hits from first: Making just his fourth start at first base this season, Norris' day started off shakily when he couldn't corral Yangervis Solarte's throw from third base in the second. But it turned quickly. Norris singled four times and collected four RBIs with his seventh-inning slam, finishing with a career-high five hits and matching his RBI output over his previous 26 games.
Norris' fifth hit came after the first delay and sparked San Diego's ninth-inning comeback.
"I was relieved," Norris said of the first delay. "I didn't see much of the pitches he was throwing. Water was splashing all over my helmet." More >
"To hit that ball out of the ballpark into a driving rainstorm, with the wind going across, to the deepest part of the park ... that is highly unlikely." -- Padres interim manager Pat Murphy, on Upton's game-winning blast
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Yonder Alonso's pinch-hit double in the seventh extended his hit streak against the Mets to 13 games, the longest current streak any player owns against New York. Alonso is a lifetime .389 hitter vs. the Mets.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres: The Padres travel to Miami to face the Marlins for the fifth time in nine days. San Diego took three of four from Miami last weekend at Petco Park. Ian Kennedy is slated to start Friday's 4:10 p.m. PT series opener, but the Padres may make a deal before then.
Mets: A showdown with the Nationals looms this weekend at Citi Field, giving the Mets another opportunity to reclaim first place in the National League East. Just like last time, New York has lined up Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to face Washington, with Harvey starting Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET game opposite left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.