Santana not great, but gets 5th win for Mets

BY foxsports • May 17, 2009

Randy Johnson plans to bury himself in the film room between starts to figure out what's going wrong.

The Big Unit knows his pursuit of 300 wins could take a while if he doesn't get on track.

Johnson dug himself an early hole against New York and ace Johan Santana, and the potent Mets beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 on Saturday with another late rally.

"I'm not too happy with my last three starts. I'm not happy where I'm at," Johnson said. "I need to do some work on the video machine and talk with (pitching coach Dave Righetti) a little bit. I'll look at location, sequences."

Carlos Beltran hit a pair of doubles and drove in three runs, and David Wright had a two-run double and three RBIs for New York. Fill-in cleanup hitter Gary Sheffield added three hits as the Mets won their 11th in 13 games and improved to 12-3 in May.

The Big Unit, looking to become the 24th pitcher to reach the 300-win milestone, is stuck on 298 victories. He heads to familiar territory to try again: Seattle on Friday night. That's where his career took off in the early 1990s.

Santana (5-2), the NL ERA leader at 0.78 coming in, was far from dominant in a pitching matchup of two southpaws with seven Cy Young awards between them. He allowed a season-high six runs, his four earned runs double his previous 2009 total and raised his ERA to 1.36, and it was only the second time he had allowed 11 hits in his career.

J.J. Putz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in place of Francisco Rodriguez for his first save since last Sept. 28 with Seattle. Putz had been nursing inflammation in his right elbow.

The Mets pounded Johnson (3-4) even without slugger Carlos Delgado in the middle of their order. He went on the disabled list before the game with a right hip injury and manager Jerry Manuel called for others to contribute.

He got solid production throughout the order - even Santana added a fourth-inning single for his first hit of the season. Ramon Castro also drove in two runs.

"After all these years, it's very special to finally face him," Santana said of Johnson. "He's about to do what not a lot of pitchers have done."

Aaron Rowand's two-run single in the fourth tied the game at 3. Santana was tagged for his first earned run after a stretch of 22 1-3 innings.

The Mets answered with four runs in the fifth and Johnson's day was done before he could record an out. He allowed 11 hits and seven runs with three strikeouts and no walks. It marked only the fifth time since 2000 that Johnson gave up 11 hits in a game.

"It's location with him," manager Bruce Bochy said.

Johnson, who has struggled with his troublesome back and stints on the disabled list in recent seasons, got a fresh start with San Francisco this year in his native Bay Area.

Tom Glavine was the last pitcher to win his 300th on Aug. 5, 2007, at age 41. Considering Johnson's injury problems, some thought Glavine might be the last to do it.

Rowand also homered among his three hits and Pablo Sandoval added an RBI double in the third for San Francisco, which dropped its fourth straight and will try to avoid a four-game sweep in Sunday night's series finale. The Giants have lost eight straight to the Mets.

"We battled against one of the best pitchers in baseball," Rowand said. "It's not too often you can look back and say, 'That was a good loss."'

Santana is struggling for run support, entering his start with the lowest total in the majors. The Mets have scored 24 runs in his eight outings, 18 while he was on the mound. They have 165 runs in their other 28 games, an average of 5.89.

New York has stolen 13 bases the first three games of the series, getting two in the first inning Saturday. It's the first time the Mets have stolen that many in a three-game stretch.

"The key for us is to try and manufacture runs," Manuel said. "With the way we've been running, it creates a diversion for the opposition that they have to start paying attention to us a little bit."


Johnson has five Cy Young awards and Santana two. The last time two pitchers with so many Cy Youngs faced off was July 19, 2006, featuring Houston's Roger Clemens (seven) and Chicago's Greg Maddux (four), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Santana allowed 12 hits to the Braves on May 22, 2008. ... Travis Ishikawa returned for San Francisco after bruising his eye during batting practice Friday.

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