SAN FRANCISCO -- Yoenis Cespedes smashed a two-run home run to left field in the seventh and Noah Syndergaard pitched eight shutdown innings as the Mets earned a series split and beat the Giants, 2-0, at AT&T Park.
Cespedes's blast to left field was just the second hit Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija allowed Sunday night, but it proved to be the difference. The hit came after Curtis Granderson ended Samardzija's no-hit bid with a double to left field and punctuated the six-year veteran's return to the Mets lineup. Cespedes has hit three home runs in his first three games since returning from the disabled list.
"We've had a tough time," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "If you're going to win, your good players got to play good. That means what Noah did tonight, what Cespedes has done the last couple games. We ride those guys. Hopefully this is the start of what we've been looking to do. We're getting some guys back."
"I threw the ball well, just really that one pitch to Cespedes, splitter came back and Cespedes took care of it," said Samardzija. "We struck out on him on the at-bat before. He's a heck of a hitter."
The two-run shot created more than enough cushion for Syndergaard, who continued to seamlessly dispatch Giants batters while allowing two hits and striking out six.
"You're not going to see better stuff than what we faced tonight," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He had everything working."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Three-pitch swing: New York's night changed dramatically over the span of three Samardzija pitches in the seventh. Granderson lined a fastball to left field for a double past Gregor Blanco, and Cespedes launched a Samardzija splitter to left two pitches later, giving the Mets a sudden 2-0 lead.
"I've had great players," Collins said when asked to compare Cespedes to other power hitters he's had. "I've had big power hitters. Lucas Duda is a big power hitter. I haven't had anybody where the ball comes off the bat like [Cespedes]. Nobody."
Thrown out: Facing Syndergaard presented what appeared to be an easy challenge for Eduardo Nunez on the basepaths. Nunez entered Sunday ranked fifth in the Majors in stolen bases with 31. Syndergaard came into the game having allowed 40 stolen bases. And after singling in the fourth inning, Nunez took off for second. However, Rene Rivera gunned down the infielder at second. Giants catcher Trevor Brown was also thrown out on a stolen-base attempt in the third.
"We felt we had a chance to steal both of them," said Bochy. "When you face a guy like this, one thing we thought we could do is run on him when they get on base. They stopped that."
Thor delivers a gem: Mets pitching entered Sunday's game with a 5.19 ERA in August, and while Syndergaard has been effective, he hadn't completed more than six innings since July 3 against the Cubs. He was dominant Sunday, however, efficiently throwing 98 pitches over eight strong innings, allowing just one baserunner over his final three innings.
"The past month and a half, I felt like today was the first day I went out there and actually relaxed and had fun out there," Syndergaard said. "I just kept things simple. The last month and half, I've been trying to think too far ahead in advance."
Hard-luck loss: Granderson's double to left field in the seventh concluded Samardzija's longest no-hit bid of his career. And despite allowing a two-run homer to the next hitter, the right-hander turned in his second consecutive quality start for the Giants. He has allowed just five runs in his last 18 2/ 3 innings, but took a loss Sunday due to the Giants facing an equally challenging pitcher.
"He's throwing the ball well," said Bochy. "I like where he's at and he carried that into today's game. He pitched his heart out."
"That was a tee shot, for sure." -- Collins, on Cespedes' homer, which came on a low splitter.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: The Mets are off Monday before beginning a three-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET. Jonathon Niese (8-7, 5.30) takes the Busch Stadium mound in his second start since being reacquired by the Mets on Aug. 1. His second tenure hasn't gone well, as the lefty is 0-1 with a 9.28 ERA in five games (four relief appearances).
Giants: Ace Madison Bumgarner will take the ball Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT as the club opens a crucial three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants were 6 1/ 2 games ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West at the All-Star break. However, just a half-game separates them currently.