Lowe helps Braves end Mets' win streak at 7
Johan Santana is still waiting for some help from his teammates this year.
Derek Lowe outlasted Santana in a matchup of aces, pitching the Atlanta Braves to an 8-3 victory Monday night that ended New York's seven-game winning streak.
"I love facing guys like that, especially Santana. He's going to beat you more than you're going to beat him, but it's fun to be in those games," Lowe said. "It's fun to challenge yourself to see if you can step up when you have to."
In a season-long trend that has become maddening for the Mets, they provided Santana with little support on offense or defense. Jose Reyes' two-out error in the seventh inning led to four runs, saddling Santana (4-2) with his second loss this season when he did not allow an earned run.
"It's crazy that it happened twice already," Santana said. "There's not many things I can do."
The two-time Cy Young Award winner was pulled after 108 pitches with the score tied at 1. He lowered his NL-best ERA to 0.78 through seven starts - but somehow New York has lost three of them.
"Hopefully, there will come a point where we will pick him up," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think it's just coincidence, I really do. He's the type of guy that gets everybody up before his game. He might be getting 'em too geeked - that might be it. I think it'll turn around."
Matt Diaz's two-run single off Pedro Feliciano snapped a 1-all tie in the seventh, and Casey Kotchman followed with another two-run single that made it 5-1.
That was more than enough for Lowe (5-1), who took a three-hitter into the seventh and won his fourth straight start. The Braves have won five of six on an eight-game road trip against the three teams ahead of them in the NL East standings. This was their first visit to Citi Field, the Mets' new ballpark.
"It was a matchup as advertised," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
Both teams played without a big slugger. Carlos Delgado sat out for the Mets because of a recurring hip injury, while Chipper Jones was sidelined for Atlanta due to a sore right elbow.
Lowe gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. The Mets pursued the sinkerballer in the offseason but were outbid by the Braves, who signed him to a $60 million, four-year contract.
New York then turned its attention to re-signing Oliver Perez, a major bust this year who is currently on the disabled list.
Two infield singles and a two-out throwing error by third baseman David Wright gave Atlanta a run in the first inning. New York tied it on Omir Santos' sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Kelly Johnson's one-out single in the seventh chased Santana. With two on and two outs, Feliciano came in to face cleanup batter Brian McCann, who hit a slow grounder up the middle. Reyes slid over from shortstop but booted the ball behind second, loading the bases.
"Nothing went wrong there. I just missed the ball. E-6," Reyes said.
Manuel stayed with Feliciano against the right-handed hitting Diaz, and his single to left put Atlanta ahead.
Yunel Escobar added an RBI grounder in the eighth, and the Braves scored twice in the ninth after McCann's leadoff double. Jeff Francoeur had a sacrifice fly, and pinch-hitter Omar Infante delivered an RBI single.
Santana was charged with two unearned runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. He dropped to 0-4 with a 2.31 ERA in six career starts against Atlanta.
The Mets have scored 15 runs in Santana's seven starts this year, 11 while he was on the mound. They have 139 runs in their other 24 games, an average of 5.79.
"We try to figure that out. It's hard to believe," Reyes said. "We feel bad right now."
The crowd of 40,497 surpassed 40,000 for the fourth time in 18 games at Citi Field. ... Jeremy Reed started in RF for the Mets in place of slumping Ryan Church. Manuel said he wants to give Reed a string of at-bats and he might start again Tuesday night.