- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Six batters into the game, the New York Mets were down five runs. By the time it was over, Logan Verrett had lost his spot in the rotation.

Ryan Schimpf hit two of San Diego’s four homers off Verrett and drove in six runs as the Padres beat the reeling Mets 8-6 on Friday night.

Fellow rookie Jabari Blash and Christian Bethancourt also connected early for the Padres, who handed the defending NL champions their fourth straight defeat and sixth in seven games. New York (57-58) fell below .500 for the first time since April 17.

Still, manager Terry Collins was pleased with the effort, by comparison. That’s how bad things have been going for the Mets lately.

“You saw a lot better energy tonight, a lot more passion,” Collins said. “There were some very good at-bats tonight. I thought the energy level was much better today.”

Beneath a dark sky with lightning flashing, the Padres produced some quick thunder against Verrett (3-8), who has been filling in for injured starter Matt Harvey.

After the game, Collins said the Mets now plan to turn to Jon Niese in that slot.

One day after getting swept at home by last-place Arizona, the Mets again failed to look like legitimate wild-card contenders. San Diego, which has alternated wins and losses since July 26, jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning - including a grand slam by Schimpf.

Travis Jankowski opened with a single, and Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte walked to load the bases.

After a popout to left field, Schimpf sent a 1-0 fastball just over the center-field wall for his first career slam.

As Mets fans began to chant “Rainout! Rainout!” hoping for a reprieve, Blash hit an opposite-field home run into the visitors’ bullpen to make it 5-0.

The threatening clouds passed, and inclement weather couldn’t save New York.

Travis d’Arnaud, who had three hits, got the Mets on the board in the second, lining a two-run homer to left off Padres starter Paul Clemens.

“We all showed that we never give up no matter how much we were down,” d’Arnaud said.

San Diego answered immediately in the third. Schimpf sent a two-run shot into the right-field upper deck, his 12th home run in 47 games. Two batters later, Bethancourt chased Verrett with a solo home run, putting the Padres up 8-2.

The four homers allowed by Verrett, who gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, were the most for a Mets starter since Bartolo Colon also served up four in April 2014.

“I put us in a hole 5-0 in the first inning and what did they do? They battled back,” Verrett said. “That’s the kind of guys we have on this team. I’m proud as hell of the way they played today.”

Clemens (2-2) pitched five innings of three-run ball, and Brandon Maurer worked a flawless ninth for his fifth save.

Jay Bruce had an RBI single in the fifth, and New York rallied in the sixth against San Diego’s bullpen.

After d’Arnaud led off with a single, Alejandro De Aza was hit in the neck by Buddy Baumann’s 87 mph fastball. De Aza was OK, and Matt Reynolds followed with an RBI double. Ty Kelly had a run-scoring single to make it 8-5.

“They did not roll over at all,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “They fought and made it a heck of a baseball game.”

Left-hander Brad Hand struck out Curtis Granderson, and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Reynolds.

“To come back and make it a game,” Collins said, “I was impressed with the way they went about it.”

A trio of Mets relievers combined for 6 1/3 perfect innings with eight strikeouts.

LET’S TRY THIS

Niese will likely take Verrett’s next turn in the rotation if he is physically up to it. Niese’s left knee has been bothering him lately, according to Collins, but the left-hander seems to be feeling better.

“We’re going to make a change in that spot,” Collins said. “Just making sure Jon’s knee is going to be OK. … Looks like he’s going to be fine.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets INF Jose Reyes (oblique) continued his rehab assignment with Class A Brooklyn, going 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI and two runs while playing seven innings at third base.

UP NEXT

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 5.79 ERA) makes his third start for San Diego since being acquired from Miami. He has allowed five runs on 11 hits and six walks in 8 1/3 innings with the Padres.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (7-5, 2.35) goes for his fourth straight quality start Saturday night. He is 2-1 with a 1.62 ERA since the All-Star break.

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