Mets pick up first 3-game home sweep

NEW YORK (AP) -- At his age, Orlando Hernandez takes his starts
inning by inning. Add them up, and they have produced some strong
outings for the New York Mets.

Hernandez won his fourth straight decision Thursday, allowing
four hits in seven innings in a 7-3 win over San Diego that
stretched New York's NL East lead to a season-high 14 games.

"I don't look at seven innings," El Duque said. "I look at it
one inning at a time, three outs. I get through that inning, I look
at the next inning."

Hernandez (8-8) came to the Mets from Arizona on May 24 to
bolster the back end of the rotation. He has won four straight
decisions and in seven of his last nine starts, he has pitched at
least seven innings. He has not lost in his last six starts since
June 30.

The attitude of the 40-year-old Hernandez sits well with manager
Willie Randolph.

"When he gets in a rhythm, he throws the breaking ball, the
backdoor slider, he's tough," the manager said. "It's command on
the mound, working his spots. He's really starting to feel his
rhythm on all his pitches. His fastball is up. His velocity is
really good."

With their fifth straight win, the Mets completed a three-game
sweep and dropped the Padres into a first-place tie in the NL West
with idle Arizona and Los Angeles, which played Colorado later
Thursday night.

Randolph rested several regulars in the day game and surrounded
Hernandez with a lineup of bench players, including three --
outfielders Ricky Ledee and Michael Tucker and catcher Mike
DiFelice -- who weren't on the roster a week ago. He kept the left
side of his infield intact, though, and Jose Reyes and David Wright
made the difference.

Reyes tripled home two runs in the second inning and then
touched off a four-run rally in the seventh that broke a 3-3 tie.
Wright had a pair of doubles including the hit that scored Reyes
with the go-ahead run.

"You have to be confident every at-bat," Wright said. "You
can't be scared. You have to want to be there. You can't shy away
from it."

Reyes opened the seventh with a single, and Endy Chavez beat out
a bunt for his second hit. Wright followed with a double to left
against Doug Brocail (2-1) for a 4-3 lead. An intentional walk to
Carlos Delgado loaded the bases, Jose Valentin singled for two more
runs and Tucker followed with an RBI double

San Diego took the lead in the first inning on Adrian Gonzalez's
20th homer.

Todd Walker walked with one out and moved to second on what
might have been a double-play ball. Valentin let Brian Giles' soft
liner to second drop in front of him but then threw to first base,
allowing Walker to reach second. Gonzalez followed with homer on a
2-0 pitch.

"He just made a mistake," Gonzalez said. "He didn't make many
in the whole game. He keeps the ball down. He moves it around. He
keeps you off balance."

New York went ahead 3-2 in the second when Reyes drove in two
runs with his 14th triple of the season and scored on a sacrifice
fly by Chavez.

After Gonzalez's homer, Hernandez allowed just one more hit
until the seventh, retiring 15 of 16 hitters over one stretch.
Brian Giles ended that string with a leadoff double in the seventh
and scored on Josh Bard's double.

Padres starter Chris Young, 5-0 with a 2.42 earned-run average in 10 road
starts this season coming in, allowed three runs, four hits and six
walks in five innings.

Game notes
Gonzalez has reached base in 30 consecutive games, the longest
streak by a Padre since Ryan Klesko reached in 56 straight in 2002.
... Klesko (shoulder surgery) is continuing a rehab assignment at
Single-A Lake Elsinore. He has not played for San Diego this
season. ... Chavez stole second and third in the first inning.
Wright also had two steals. ... Reyes' 14 triples and 48 stolen
bases lead the majors and his 94 runs scored are second only to
Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who has 95. ... Tucker, starting in LF,
threw out Dave Roberts trying to stretch a single in the third
inning. It was the Mets' 30th outfield assist, which leads the