NEW YORK -- During his pregame press conference Sunday morning, manager Terry Collins said the New York Mets needed right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to spare a thin bullpen by providing length against the San Diego Padres.
But then Matsuzaka got sick and vomited multiple times over the next couple of hours. And when Collins saw Matuszaka's first pitch -- an 84 mph fastball -- he knew the 33-year-old was too ill to pitch long.
"We were pretty much -- to say it politely, up the river without a paddle," Collins said.
But the Mets managed to steer themselves out of trouble thanks to right-handed pitcher Carlos Torres, who relieved Matsuzaka to start the second and threw a season-high four innings as New York pieced together a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.
The Mets (31-38) won for just the third time in 12 games and improved to 3-25 this year when scoring three runs or less.
"That was a big win for us with the way things have been going here lately," Collins said. "Especially (how) the first inning started."
Collins and a trainer visited Matsuzaka after he walked two of the first three batters he faced. After a brief consultation, Matsuzaka remained in the game and got out of the inning by retiring third baseman Chase Headley on a grounder to first.
But Matsuzaka was in obvious discomfort as he walked off the field and was the third-to-last Mets player to reach the dugout. Several innings later, the Mets announced Matsuzaka was suffering from a "severe upset stomach."
"First pitch of the game was 84, I knew that wasn't going to work," Collins said. "So I just went out to ask him 'Can you finish this inning?' And he said 'I have no strength, but I can finish the inning.'"
Matsuzaka said he began to feel sick a couple of hours after eating breakfast but that he didn't think it was food poisoning since he ate the same food as his teammates.
"I knew I wasn't physically fit to fill the starter's role, but I wanted to do as much as I could," Matsuzaka said.
Collins had few options for the final eight innings. Left-hander Dana Eveland and right-hander Gonzalez Germen were each unavailable after throwing two innings each on Saturday and Collins said he didn't think about using a starter because the other members of the Mets' rotation had already done their side work before the game.
Fortunately for the Mets, Torres had begun preparing for a long relief stint when he heard Matsuzaka getting sick in the bathroom. He recovered from a slow start in the second -- when he gave up the Padres' only run after surrendering singles to the first three batters he faced -- to retire 11 of his final 12 batters.
Torres issued one walk and struck out four over 63 pitches. He hadn't thrown more than 2 2/3 innings or 38 pitches this year.
"He locates well and got some quick outs when he needed to," said Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, who had one of the three singles off Torres. "We just weren't able to execute."
Right-handers Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia tossed two scoreless innings apiece to finish the combined four-hitter. Mejia, who wasn't expected to pitch due to a stiff back, retired all six batters he faced on just 18 pitches for his seventh save.
"It says that we're here and ready to do our job," Torres said of the bullpen's performance. "This obviously is an extreme circumstance, something that doesn't happen everyday. But everyone here -- everybody steps up and tries to do their job every day." Torres took the mound in the second with a 2-0 lead thanks to center fielder Curtis Granderson, who hit a leadoff homer off Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy (5-8), and right fielder Bobby Abreu, who laced an RBI double.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy lofted a sacrifice fly in the second inning. Granderson had two hits and two walks while first baseman Lucas Duda hit a pair of doubles.
Catcher Rene Rivera had an RBI single for the Padres, who scored one run or less for a major-league-high 21st time. San Diego (29-40) has lost 11 of its last 13.
Kennedy allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out seven over 5 1/3 innings.
NOTES: The Padres placed RHP Nick Vincent on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 12, with right shoulder fatigue and purchased the contract of RHP Blaine Boyer from Triple-A El Paso. Vincent is 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 30 relief appearances. ... RHP Jesse Hahn, who threw six one-hit innings in his second big league start Saturday, will start for the Padres on Thursday against Seattle. ... The Mets acquired LHP Blake Taylor from Pittsburgh to complete the April 18 trade that sent 1B Ike Davis to the Pirates. Taylor, 19, was a 2013 second-round pick of the Pirates. ... RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka's start was the shortest by a Mets pitcher since RHP Jeremy Hefner failed to record an out against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 20, 2012.