NEW YORK -- All it took was a trip across the country for the Padres to cure their losing ways.
Behind Dinelson Lamet's five strong innings and eight strikeouts in his Major League debut, the Padres scored a 4-3 win over the Mets on Thursday night at Citi Field -- their first series win of any kind in May. The Padres have suddenly won three of four, with a trip to Washington on the horizon this weekend.
"Any time we can get a series win, especially on the road ... after losing Game 1, to come back out and win two out of three, that's great for us going forward," Padres catcher Austin Hedges said. "Now we're looking forward to going to D.C."
Lamet allowed just three hits -- one of them a Lucas Duda home run -- and two walks. He pitched with a lead the entire game thanks to a two-run first inning, which included three walks and a Cory Spangenberg RBI single.
All those free passes came courtesy of Mets starter Rafael Montero, a last-minute replacement for Jacob deGrom. With thunderstorms in the forecast all night, the Mets decided to push deGrom back a day, fearing they would lose his services to a lengthy delay. But the rain never grew particularly heavy and Montero's abbreviated start forced the Mets to use their heavily worked bullpen for another six innings.
The Padres, meanwhile, stuck with Brad Hand as closer for the second night in a row, and he rewarded them with another save. The bullpen backed Lamet, who became the first Padres starting pitcher to record eight strikeouts or more in his debut since Bob Shirley in 1977.
"It's me, the catcher and the umpire," Lamet said. "It didn't matter about the fans, it didn't matter about being up here. It's about just enjoying it, enjoying my game and going for it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Montero's marathon: Learning about three hours prior to game time that he would sub for deGrom, Montero looked like a man who was not prepared to pitch. He walked three Padres in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded. Montero also gave up Spangenberg's RBI single on one of his 45 pitches -- the most by a Mets pitcher in a single inning since Jonathon Niese threw 48 in 2013. More >
"After that first walk, I struggled a little bit," Montero said through an interpreter.
RISP-y business: The Mets were not without their chances. In both the fifth and sixth innings, they put two men on base with none out. But Lamet used a pair of strikeouts to escape the first jam, then Jose Torres induced a double play to help the Padres wriggle out of the sixth.
"The mindset is always to go out there and win the game. I think there's always that sense of urgency. I know absolutely from our coaching staff all the way down to the roster, we're going out there to win." -- Conforto, on the Mets' rough stretch
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Before Lamet, the last Padres starter to win his debut was Colin Rea on Aug. 11, 2015. Lamet is the 29th starter in franchise history to win his first big league game.
The Mets came through with a runner on in the third when Jose Reyes hit a liner into the left-field corner. But even that was to no avail. Reyes' double initially seemed destined to plate Matt Reynolds from first base. But left fielder Allen Cordoba -- a neophyte at the position -- raced to the wall to cut off the ball. He fired a one-hopper to shortstop Chase d'Arnaud, who made a perfect throw to the plate, just ahead of a sliding Reynolds.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres: Up until Saturday, Luis Perdomo had been the Padres' most consistent starter this season. Then, he allowed eight runs over three innings against Arizona. Perdomo looks to get back on track in Friday's series opener against the Nationals at 4:05 p.m. PT at Nationals Park.
Mets: The rainy-day rotation edit means deGrom will start Friday's series opener in Pittsburgh at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Mets will play just three games at PNC Park before returning home on Memorial Day for a seven-game homestand.