If the Mets and Padres meet in the playoffs, it might be hard to match the back-and-forth excitement of this week's series.
Both teams could probably expect much more from their star closers, though.
Adrian Gonzalez homered in the 10th inning and San Diego edged New York 9-8 on Thursday night at Shea Stadium in a wild game that included blown saves by Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman.
``It's a rarity, that's for sure,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``It just goes to show you closers are human. It's a tough role. People want perfection, and it's not going to happen.''
San Diego took two of three from the NL East leaders in a potential playoff preview. The Padres increased their lead in the wild-card race to two games over Philadelphia.
If the standings hold the rest of the way, far from a certainty, the Mets and Padres would play in the first round of the postseason. Based on their matchup this week, that could be quite a thriller - for everyone but the closers.
Wagner and Hoffman, two of baseball's best relievers, both struggled mightily all series. Wagner blew one save chance and gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Tuesday before New York rallied to win. Hoffman blew two saves, sandwiched around a successful conversion Wednesday night.
On Aug. 10, Wagner and Hoffman blew saves on the same day for the first time ever. Thirteen days later, they did it in the same game.
``Hey, it's going to happen,'' Wagner said. ``That was about the best I've pitched in three weeks. It's the best control I've had.''
In the end, Heath Bell was the only guy with enough moxie to close it out. After two pitchers with a combined 867 saves had failed before him, the ex-Met tossed a scoreless 10th for his first major league save.
``I always have confidence I'm going to go out there and no one's going to hit me,'' Bell said. ``Sometimes they do, but I always think they won't.''
In other NL games, it was: Los Angeles 5, Philadelphia 2; San Francisco 4, Chicago 1; Cincinnati 9, Atlanta 7 in 12 innings; Florida 11, St. Louis 3; Pittsburgh 5, Colorado 1; and Washington 7, Houston 6.
Gonzalez hit a solo shot with one out in the 10th off Aaron Heilman (7-6) for his 21st homer this season.
Trailing 6-1 in the sixth, the Mets scored six times to take Tom Glavine off the hook. Pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson capped the rally with a three-run homer.
New York led 7-6 in the ninth and handed the ball to Wagner, who was trying for his 30th save. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Khalil Greene and pinch-hitter Terrmel Sledge, and Josh Bard followed with an RBI single that gave San Diego an 8-7 lead. It was the third blown save this year for Wagner.
But the Mets stormed back against Hoffman (3-4), baseball's career saves leader. Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo hit consecutive singles with one out, then executed a double steal. David Wright's sacrifice fly tied it.
``I'm not going to worry about Trev. He's had a great season and he's one of the best ever,'' Black said.
After an intentional walk to Carlos Beltran and a walk to Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou grounded out to end the inning.
``I made some good pitches,'' Hoffman said. ``You have to give credit to those guys. You don't want to say that too much, but sometimes you have to.''
Dodgers 5, Phillies 2
At Philadelphia, Chad Billingsley (8-4) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings for his first victory in a month. He struck out seven. Takashi Saito earned his 34th save in 37 chances.
In other news, David Wells and the Dodgers agreed to a contract and the big lefty plans to make his first start for Los Angeles on Sunday night against the Mets in New York.
Reds 9, Braves 7, 12 innings
At Cincinnati, Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer off Bob Wickman (3-3) in the 12th and the Reds won their third straight. Mark Teixeira homered and Chipper Jones matched a career high with five RBIs, but that wasn't enough to keep Atlanta from its second three-game skid in eight days.
Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria (right ankle) was placed on the 15-day disabled list again, one day after he was activated.
Giants 4, Cubs 1
At San Francisco, Matt Cain (6-13) outpitched and even outslugged opposing starter Carlos Zambrano (14-10), shutting down Chicago for seven innings and hitting his second career home run.
The Giants snapped a six-game home losing streak. The first-place Cubs, a half-game ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central, acquired slumping outfielder Craig Monroe and cash from Detroit for a player to be named.
Marlins 11, Cardinals 3
At St. Louis, Josh Willingham homered twice and drove in a career-best six runs, including a grand slam off Anthony Reyes (2-13) that helped Florida stop an eight-game losing streak.
Albert Pujols went 0-for-3 and was lifted after the sixth, ending his career-best five-game homer streak. Pujols' RBI streak also ended at seven games. The Cardinals tied a season high with four errors.
Pirates 5, Rockies 1
At Denver, Josh Phelps had three RBIs and a career-high four hits to back Paul Maholm (10-14). Colorado has lost four of five.
Nationals 7, Astros 6
At Houston, Ronnie Belliard capped a five-run first inning with a two-run homer and Chad Cordero saved it for rookie John Lannan (2-2). Carlos Lee hit a pair of two-run homers for the Astros.

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