NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard was nearly perfect.
The New York Mets rookie retired the first 18 San Diego Padres he faced Tuesday night, before Will Venable smacked the first pitch of the seventh inning back up the middle for a single. Syndergaard ended up pitching eight shutout innings in the Mets' 4-0 win. He gave up just three hits (all singles), with nine strikeouts and no walks -- his best start yet.
The 22-year-old upped his record to 5-5 and lowered his ERA to 2.70.
The Mets have won three in a row and are now 52-48 -- in second place in the National League East. If the Washington Nationals lose to the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, the Mets would draw within one game of first place.
The Padres' record is now 47-53.
Historic homer: The Mets' first two runs came in the first inning. Daniel Murphy hit a two-out single off Padres starter James Shields, and then Lucas Duda hit his 15th home run of the season -- a long blast to center field.
In fact, Duda's homer traveled 462 feet, making it the longest home run ever hit by a Met at Citi Field.
Late homer: Shields exited in the eighth after giving up a leadoff double to pinch hitter Juan Lagares. Shawn Kelley replaced Shields and immediately gave up a two-run shot into the upper deck in right field by Curtis Granderson.
First impression: Reliever Tyler Clippard, acquired from the Oakland Athletics on Monday, made his Mets debut, pitching the ninth inning. Clippard gave up a leadoff double to Abraham Almonte, but then retired the next three batters in order.