Padres 3, Mets 2
NEW YORK -- Heath Bell spun around and pumped his fist after the final out, finishing off four hitless innings by the proud Padres bullpen.
"It was just nice to go out there and go 1-2-3," Bell said. "It was more just for the whole bullpen. Like, there we go, we're back on track."
Cameron Maybin homered and stole two bases before scoring the tiebreaking run on an error by substitute shortstop Ruben Tejada, rallying San Diego past the New York Mets 3-2 on Thursday for a split of their four-game series.
Bell pitched a perfect ninth and the last-place Padres improved to 5-2 on a 10-game road trip that takes them to Cincinnati this weekend.
"We're doing awesome," Bell said. "The bullpen, if we hadn't made mistakes on Monday and Tuesday we wouldn't have lost on this road trip yet. So we're feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Lucas Duda hit a two-run double for the Mets, who managed only three hits and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. New York finished 3-6 on a disappointing homestand and has lost eight of 11 overall.
With the Mets short on rested relievers, Jonathon Niese (11-9) matched his career high with 122 pitches. He outlasted Cory Luebke in a matchup of young left-handers from Ohio, but couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead.
The score was tied in the eighth when Maybin hit a leadoff single and stole second on a pickoff throw to first. Duda's toss was a bit late to Tejada, subbing for injured Jose Reyes, and the Mets didn't get the call on a close play when Tejada tagged Maybin's shoulder.
"I was just telling myself, I've got to make something happen," Maybin said. "I got a good enough jump and was blessed with good enough speed to get in there."
Niese, who pitched a one-hitter against San Diego at Citi Field last year for his only major league shutout, put his hands on his head, knowing he had a tough chore ahead.
After the game, Maybin said he was safe. Tejada thought he got him.
"That's the name of the game, man. Sometimes you've got to try to force the issue a little bit and I was able to do so and it worked out," Maybin said.
Cubs 4, Nationals 3
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs keep hitting home runs.
Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena went back to back on Thursday to help the Cubs rally past the Washington Nationals 4-3 Thursday.
Ramirez's two-run shot in the seventh was his 21st of the season, and gave him 16 homers since June 25, the most in the major leagues since then.
"However we can score," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "The guys are hitting the ball out of the ballpark and that's a good thing."
Pena followed Ramirez with a clout that curled around the pole in right field and landed on Sheffield Avenue and put the cubs up 4-1.
"You like to be able to create any way you can, but the longball is still a part of it," Quade said.
Ryan Dempster (10-8) limited Washington to a first-inning home run by Ryan Zimmerman and went seven innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out six.
Washington loaded the bases and scored a run in the ninth against Carlos Marmol, but he recovered to get his 26th save.
Wilson Ramos hit a high chopper off Marmol that he beat out for an infield single, scoring Jonny Gomes. But Marmol struck out Brian Bixler and got Rick Ankiel on a fly ball to the wall in center to end the game.
"Marm gutted it out," Quade said. "That was something. I'm out of breath."
Marmol has converted seven straight saves since returning to the closer's role on July 31. He was pitching for the third straight day, too.
"When you ask a guy to come out for a third day, you're always worried," Quade said. "He's done it before. He just wasn't as sharp command-wise.
"He could have collapsed at any time there and didn't. Got back in the strike zone when he needed to. Just a gutsy performance on a day when he didn't have his (best) stuff."
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