Marlins taken down by Santana and the Mets, 5-1

JUPITER, Fla. (AP)Johan Santana resembled the pitcher on Sunday that many call the premier left-hander in the game the last six years.

Santana pitched four scoreless innings against the Marlins, allowing

three hits in his second spring training start since undergoing surgery

on his left elbow in September.

Santana and

fellow Venezuelan Anibal Sanchez left a scoreless game before the

Marlins did all their scoring in the fifth off John Maine in a 5-1

victory.

“I was able to throw all my

pitches. I was more consistent keeping the ball down and throwing the

ball better than last time,” Santana said. “The most important thing is

I don’t feel anything in my elbow.”

In his

first appearance this spring, Santana allowed four runs on six hits and

a walk in 1 2-3 innings against the Houston Astros. He threw 47 pitches

in that game, but needed two fewer to go his four innings on Sunday.

“He looked today just like he’s looked his whole career, locating all

of his pitches when and where he wanted to,” Marlins second baseman Dan

Uggla said. “He’s back to his old self.”

Santana’s final out came when Bryan Petersen was picked off second base.

Petersen, who had two hits off Santana, doubled high off the wall in

right field to lead off the fourth. The other two hits allowed by

Santana were bloop singles. Santana then retired Hanley Ramirez on a

fly ball to center field and Uggla on a ground ball to shortstop before

picking off Petersen.

“That’s something we

have focused on in spring training, those little details,” Santana said

about the pick off. “It’s definitely a relief when you are able to get

an out like that and get out of the inning and save a few pitches.”

Santana was mostly pleased with his slider, a pitch that he said flattened out last season as his elbow pain increased.

“I really like the fact that he’s throwing the slider to left-handed

batters,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “To me the most impressive

thing is the command.”

If Santana does not

face the Marlins again in spring training, the next time he sees them

will be on opening day at Citi Field.

“Those guys were aggressive but I was able to mix my pitches and throw

everything for strikes,” Santana said. “The next I face them might be

on a different stage.”

Sanchez overcome a

rough start to the spring in which he had allowed five earned runs on

seven hits and four walks in his first 4 1-3 innings. On Sunday, he

struck out three and surrendered two hits in four innings.

The difference, though, is Sanchez is trying to win a spot in the

rotation and Santana is the ace. Sanchez said he concentrated on his

mechanics since his last outing.

“I worked

really hard,” he said. “I just wanted to make outs quickly. The fewer

pitches per hitter, that will help me stay in games. Like today, if

they make contact the team made plays.”

Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb had a two-run double to start the Marlins’

scoring in the fifth. Chris Coghlan and Ramirez each added a

run-scoring double.