David Wright knew the New York Mets couldn’t afford to let Tim Hudson find his rhythm.
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”You have to get to that guy early if you’re going to get to him at all,” Wright said. ”When he settles down, he gets stronger and stronger.”
Wright homered, Johan Santana won for the first time in four starts and New York snapped the Atlanta Braves’ five-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory Thursday night.
The Mets, who had dropped three straight, broke a 13-game stretch in which they scored three runs or less against the NL East-leading Braves.
Hudson (15-6) lost for the first time in nine starts after allowing eight hits and four runs – three earned – with one walk and four strikeouts in seven innings. His ERA rose six points to 2.30.
”Spotting them two in the first wasn’t really the way we wanted to get things going,” Hudson said. ”That’s not what you want to do against a front-line starter.”
Santana (11-9) left after five innings, his shortest outing in 23 starts. He threw 65 pitches, 43 for strikes. The Mets later announced that the left-hander had a strained pectoral muscle and was listed as day-to-day.
New York manager Jerry Manuel removed his ace from the game when he saw Santana’s discomfort.
”I felt a little tightness here,” Santana said while pointing to his upper left chest. ”He said I was done for the night. I felt I was able to go back out, but he didn’t want to take any chances. I’ll be all right.”
Santana allowed three hits, one run and one walk with three strikeouts to avoid losing four straight starts for the first time since May 18-June 3, 2004 with Minnesota.
The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the first off Hudson, who was 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his previous eight starts.
Carlos Beltran tripled and scored on second baseman Omar Infante’s errant relay throw to third. Chris Carter scored with the bases loaded on Joaquin Arias’ infield RBI single.
Hudson had beaten the Mets in four straight starts. Overall, his last loss was July 17 against Milwaukee. The right-hander dropped to 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 career starts against New York.
Hudson, who earlier in the day was named the NL pitcher of the month for August, lost for the first time since July 17 against Milwaukee.
”Huddy pitched fine,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ”We just really didn’t hit the ball tonight.”
Brian McCann led off the Atlanta second with his 20th homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
Wright’s 22nd homer made it 3-1 in the sixth. Before his solo shot sailed into the left-field seats, Wright was hitting .059 in 34 at-bats at Turner Field this season.
”It was a sinker that he left up a little bit,” Wright said. ”When he makes a mistake, you have to capitalize on it.”
The Mets took a 4-1 lead in the seventh against Peter Moylan. The run, which scored Luis Castillo on Beltran’s infield RBI groundout, was unearned because the next batter, Lucas Duda, reached on Infante’s fielding error.
Atlanta made it 4-2 in the eighth on Martin Prado’s infield RBI single off Bobby Parnell.
Hisanori Takahashi pitched the ninth to earn his third save in as many chances. After McCann led off with a single, Takahashi got Matt Diaz to fly out before retiring Alex Gonzalez and Melky Cabrera.
Over his previous three starts, Santana had a 3.91 ERA as the Mets scored an average of just 1.47 runs for him. He improved to 3-6 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 career starts against Atlanta.
”I knew this game was so important to us after we lost the first three,” Santana said. ”Our guys scored enough runs to win, and the bullpen did a great job.”
NOTES: The Braves activated INF Troy Glaus from the 15-day DL after he missed 14 games with an inflamed left knee. … Atlanta was trying for its first four-game sweep of the Mets at Turner Field since May 2008, a three-day stretch that included a doubleheader. … Angel Pagan, who missed the last two games with right wrist tendinitis, replaced Carter in RF to begin the bottom of the seventh. … New York RHP R.A. Dickey flew to Chicago a day early for his start Friday against the Cubs. … The Mets purchased the contract of rookie C Mike Nickeas from Triple-A Buffalo.