NEW YORK -- The first time New York Mets rookie right-hander Noah Syndergaard faced the San Diego Padres on June 2, he joined a dubious club by becoming the second pitcher in history to strike out 10 batters in a start in which he lasted less than five innings.
In his second appearance against the Padres on Tuesday night, Syndergaard threatened to become the first Met to accomplish pitching's most hallowed feat.
Syndergaard retired the first 18 batters he faced Tuesday and ended up allowing three hits over eight shutout innings as the Mets beat the Padres 4-0 at Citi Field.
"After the fifth, I kind of thought about it," said Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who provided Syndergaard all the support he'd need with a two-run homer in the first. "Sixth, obviously, and then the seventh."
Duda wasn't alone, especially after the Padres didn't get anything close to a hit in the first three innings. A buzz began building among the crowd of 26,034 in the fourth inning, when Syndergaard snared a leadoff liner by Padres center fielder Will Venable. Every two-strike count in the sixth was greeted with rhythmic clapping.
"It's kind of in the back of my head from when the game started," Syndergaard said. "You can't pay too much attention to what's happening at the moment. Just got to get back on the mound and continue to make quality pitches."
But Venable ended the suspense on the first pitch of the seventh, which he laced up the middle for a clean single to end Syndergaard's bid for the 24th perfect game in history and the first by a Mets hurler.
That also ended the most nervous part of the evening for Mets manager Terry Collins, who said afterward that Syndergaard would only be allowed to throw 110 pitches in his 13th big league start.
"Looked up in the sixth inning, said 'OK I think he might be OK if he has a couple easy innings,'" Collins said. "But we didn't have to worry about it now."
The Mets only had to worry briefly about the Padres getting on the scoreboard. Immediately after Venable's hit, third baseman Yangervis Solarte was credited with an infield single when shortstop Ruben Tejada lost control of the ball trying to begin a double play.
"His stuff was incredible," Padres manager Pat Murphy said. "We got him on the ropes there that one time, 2-0 ballgame, and didn't come through.
"But credit the kid. He was awfully good."
Syndergaard ended up walking none and striking out nine -- quite a departure from June 2, when he also walked none but allowed seven runs on 10 hits in his shortest start as a big leaguer. He said absorbing that defeat didn't have any impact on how he performed Tuesday.
"I think just the poise and confidence I have out on the mound helps a lot," Syndergaard said. "I mean, San Diego was a month and a half ago. A lot's happened in a month and a half."
Syndergaard has made nine starts since then, a stretch in which he has allowed one run or fewer six times while recording a 2.17 ERA and walking 15 while striking out 59 over 58 innings. Overall this season, he is 5-5 with a 2.70 ERA.
Right fielder Curtis Granderson had two hits, including a long two-run homer in the eighth, as the Mets (52-48) won their third straight to move within a game of the Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Right-hander Tyler Clippard, whom the Mets acquired from the Oakland Athletics on Monday, made his debut with New York and allowed one hit in the ninth.
The Padres (47-53) had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Right-hander James Shields (8-4) took the loss for the Padres after giving up three runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out four over seven innings.
"I thought he was great," Murphy said. "His first inning wasn't his best, but he responded well and got six quick ones after that."
NOTES: Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia has been suspended 162 games, effective immediately, for a second failed PED test. Mejia tested positive for Stanozolol and Boldenone. He was suspended for 80 games earlier this season for failing a test for Stanozolol. Mejia returned July 7 and threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He is the first major leaguer to fail two PED tests. ... To make room for RHP Tyler Clippard, the Mets optioned RHP Logan Verrett to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Padres OF Wil Myers, who underwent wrist surgery June 18, is experiencing soreness and won't resume swinging a bat for at least five days. ... Padres RHP Brandon Morrow, who hasn't pitched in the majors since May 2 due to a shoulder injury, will make his second rehab start for Triple-A El Paso on Thursday.