NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey's struggles this season have been both well-documented and well-defined. And while Harvey did little to boost his fading reputation on Tuesday, his teammates boosted him plenty with a seven-run first inning in the Mets' 9-3 win over the Padres at Citi Field.
Michael Conforto homered, singled and drove in three runs in the first inning alone, finishing with his second career multi-homer game -- third, including his 2015 World Series Game 4 performance -- to pace the offense.
"He's in one of those grooves that great hitters get into that you just don't want to mess with him," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Most of the Mets' output came against Jhoulys Chacin, who became the second Padres starter in five days to record just two outs. Though San Diego's bullpen cobbled together 7 1/3 innings of effective relief, the Padres never mounted a serious comeback against Harvey or the Mets' relief corps. They lost for the 15th time in 19 games.
"I made bad pitches during the first inning," said Chacin, who turned in the shortest start of his career. "I also made good pitches, and they found a hole. It was one of those games where nothing was hit to anybody. It's tough when you don't give the team a chance to win -- like I did today."
Since signing a one-year deal with the Padres during the offseason, Chacin has been excellent at home, limiting opponents to two earned runs in 27 innings. That success has eluded him entirely on the road, where he's posted a 10.94 ERA in six starts.
Harvey held on to complete five innings, winning for the first time since April 11.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Batting around, and then some: Conforto had homered to lead off the first inning three previous times this season, and had constructed a two-homer game once. But in the Mets' 56-year history, no one had ever knocked in three runs from the leadoff spot during the first inning of a game. Conforto accomplished the feat with his homer and a two-run single to cap the seven-run rally, chasing Chacin.
"I think it's just a product of what I've been working on -- using the whole field, taking what the pitcher gives me," Conforto said. "That single was just a fastball away. … It was just a line drive the other way." More >
Harvey danger: The Padres had Harvey on thin ice early, plating two runs off him in the second inning and walking twice in a three-batter span to open the third. But Harvey took advantage of a borderline 2-0 called strike to the next Padres hitter, Wil Myers, who eventually struck out on eight pitches. Ryan Schimpf then lined out sharply to right field to squelch the Padres' best chance for some serious damage against Harvey.
"A little shaky," was how Harvey evaluated his night. "It's not ideal. But when you have a big lead like that, especially in the first inning, you really have to stay focused. … I was able to settle in toward the end."
"What I'm mostly focused on is: How can we collectively respond to the adversity in the first inning? I thought, first couple innings, we had good at-bats. And then we started expanding the strike zone against a guy who couldn't find the strike zone." -- Padres manager Andy Green
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mets had not scored seven or more runs in the first inning of a game since plating seven against the Braves on Sept. 16, 2004. Their best first inning ever came when they recorded nine runs against the Giants at Candlestick Park, on Aug. 16, 1988.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Mets outfielder Jay Bruce departed after five innings due to back tightness, but expects to be back in the lineup Wednesday. In the top of the inning, he brushed awkwardly against the right-field wall in pursuit of a foul ball. Bruce has been one of the Mets' few consistently healthy players this season, appearing in 41 of their first 43 games.
"I definitely don't have a history of missing time due to back [injuries] or anything like that," Bruce said. "It was just an isolated incident."
For all intents and purposes, the game was already decided when Wilmer Flores lifted a foul pop toward the home on-deck circle in the bottom of the fifth. Still, Padres catcher Austin Hedges turned in one of the most impressive catches by a backstop all season.
He sprung from his crouch and made a full-extension dive, corralling the popup while sliding face-first toward the warning track in foul ground. Hedges' defense has been superb this season, and Tuesday's catch was merely the latest example.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres:Jarred Cosart earned himself another start with five impressive innings against the Brewers last week. For the first time this season he won't be on a limited pitch count Wednesday against the Mets at 4:10 p.m. PT.
Mets: Fresh off a 10-day stint in the bullpen, Robert Gsellman will return to the Mets' rotation in a 7:10 p.m. ET game Wednesday against the Padres. Gsellman owns a 2.25 ERA as a reliever this season, but a 7.27 mark as a starter.