New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig
August 14, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) Steven Matz was sailing along with a no-hitter intact, his pitch count climbing in 96-degree heat. But as the buzz began to build at Citi Field, Terry Collins' stomach was churning in the dugout.

Smack in the middle of a 5-1 victory over San Diego on Sunday, the New York Mets' manager couldn't help but recall that tension-filled night four years ago when he let Johan Santana - making his 11th start since shoulder surgery - throw a career-high 134 pitches to finish the only no-hitter in franchise history.

Santana, of course, got injured later that season and hasn't made it back to the majors.

''I looked up there and I saw 65 or 70 and I said, `(Oh, no). Here we go again,''' Collins said.

Concerned this time about leaving his prized rookie in too long, Collins was given something of a reprieve when Alexei Ramirez slapped an opposite-field single just inside first base with one out in the eighth inning.

The ball appeared to skip right over the bag, and first base umpire Carlos Torres quickly signaled fair.

''Guess it was a coin flip,'' New York second baseman Neil Walker said. ''He absolutely had no-hit stuff today. You could tell that early in the game. ... He'll have another shot at it.''

Collins immediately went to the mound and Matz was pulled after 105 pitches. He walked off the field to a big ovation from the crowd of 26,612.

It was the longest no-hit bid by a Mets pitcher since Santana's gem against St. Louis on June 1, 2012.

''It really wasn't on my mind. The only thing on my mind was getting outs,'' Matz said.

Walker and Wilmer Flores homered for the defending NL champions (59-58). Struggling to stay close in the wild-card race, they took two of three in the series to win consecutive games for the first time since July 6-7 against Miami and Washington.

Facing the Padres for the first time, Matz (9-8) earned just his second victory in nine decisions over his past 14 starts.

The 25-year-old lefty, a hometown favorite who grew up about 50 miles from Citi Field, struck out eight and walked two. Mixing his 94-95 mph fastball with a sharp curve, he fanned All-Star slugger Wil Myers all three times.

In his previous outing, Matz threw a career-high 120 pitches during a no-decision last Tuesday against Arizona.

''Had he got through the eighth inning, I was going to let him start the ninth - depending on what the eighth inning looked like,'' Collins said. ''I wasn't going to visit the Johan Santana scenario again, I can tell you that.''

Flores and Walker connected for solo shots off lefty Clayton Richard (0-2) as San Diego began its shift to a six-man rotation during a stretch of 16 games between off days.

Richard allowed two runs over five innings in his first major league start since Aug. 2 last year for the Chicago Cubs.

''I couldn't ask for anything more,'' Padres manager Andy Green said. ''He was outstanding.''

The Mets added three insurance runs in the eighth, when Jose Reyes scored on a wild pitch and rookie T.J. Rivera - another New York product playing for his hometown team - hit a two-run double for his first career RBIs.

''That felt really good,'' Rivera said. ''Pretty cool, man.''

Addison Reed and Gabriel Ynoa finished the four-hitter. Ynoa yielded Yangervis Solarte's run-scoring single in the ninth.

UNDER THE SUN

Matz is 7-2 with a 1.46 ERA in 10 career starts during the day.

ON THE LEFT

A switch-hitter, Walker has connected for seven of his 21 home runs off left-handers this year. Coming into the season, he had six career homers off lefties. ... Flores is hitting .354 against southpaws, including 18 for 40 (.450) with eight homers and 16 RBIs since July 1.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: CF Jon Jay (broken right forearm) is scheduled to have another CT scan Monday in California and the team hopes he will be cleared to begin swinging a bat.

Mets: OF Curtis Granderson was rested. ... Collins said he thinks RHP Zack Wheeler is scheduled to see noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Wheeler has been slow to recover from Tommy John surgery in March 2015. He began a rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie this month but complained of elbow discomfort after throwing 17 pitches in one inning during a rain-shortened start.

UP NEXT

Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo (5-6, 6.80 ERA) starts Monday night at Tampa Bay as San Diego begins the final leg of its nine-game road trip. LHP Drew Smyly (4-11, 5.04) goes for the Rays.

Mets: In the opener of a 10-game road trip, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (10-6, 3.35 ERA) gets the ball Monday night at Arizona as New York looks to avenge a three-game sweep by the last-place Diamondbacks at Citi Field last week. Arizona is the only major league team Colon has never beaten, though he permitted just one run over seven innings and struck out eight last Wednesday vs. the Diamondbacks.

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