"It's just a relief to finally do something positive," Williams said after pitching 7 1-3 strong innings and getting back at Al Leiter by driving in two runs as the San Diego Padres beat New York 3-2 Tuesday night.
Williams (6-11) has struggled since early July, losing six of his seven previous decisions. He had lost three straight, including a 9-3 defeat to Leiter and the Mets at Shea Stadium last Thursday, with Leiter hitting a three-run double in the fifth for the Mets' final runs.
Williams drove in San Diego's first two runs with a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and a double in the fourth. Tony Gwynn added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Williams called his double "lucky," but added: "Especially after what Al did to me at Shea, it's kind of nice to turn the tide on him a little bit."
The Mets, who remained tied with Atlanta for the NL East lead, lost for just the seventh time in 26 games while the Padres won for just the sixth time in 26. San Diego had lost six straight to the Mets.
Williams allowed two runs and four hits to stop his three-game losing streak. In those three losses, he allowed 16 earned runs and 23 hits in 17 innings.
Williams had a good bullpen session in between starts, and worked on the grip of his changeup.
"Early on, it was better. It just sets up everything else I trow," Williams said.
"We didn't have many long at-bats," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He made quality pitches every time he had to. He really didn't have many jams."
Williams also kept the ball in the park after allowing at least one homer in each of his previous eight starts, for a total of 16.
Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 31 save in 34 chances. After Rickey Henderson's leadoff double, he retired Edgardo Alfonzo on a comebacker as Henderson held, struck out John Olerud and got Mike Piazza on a grounder.
Piazza had been 4-for-10 with three homers against Hoffman, including a game-winning shot April 28.
Leiter (10-8) was wild early, walking four straight batters opening the second inning, including a four-pitch walk to Williams that forced in Wally Joyner with San Diego's first run.
"How pathetic was that?" Leiter said.
"When things go astray, for whatever reason, you realize what you have to do," he said. "When you don't correct it, it becomes a panic. You feel like, `Can I throw a strike?' It rattles you."
Said Williams: "I've gone through what Al was going through that inning. It's tough. Once I took the first ball, I had the `take' sign the rest of the time."
At that point, Leiter had thrown just 10 strikes in 38 pitches. He also walked two in the first.
The Padres took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Williams drove a ball over Henderson's head to the base of the left-field fence for his second double of the season. That scored Joyner, who hit a leadoff single and took third on Chris Gomez's infield single and a throwing error by Alfonzo at second.
The Mets closed to 2-1 on Piazza's sacrifice fly in the seventh. After Gwynn's sacrifice fly made it 3-1, the Mets again closed to one run in the eighth when Rey Ordonez's RBI single chased Williams. Donne Wall came on and got pinch-hitter Shawon Dunston to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Leiter allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings, walked eight one short of his career-high and struck out four.
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