Eight scoreless by Santana helps Mets win fourth straight
LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the first inning at Dodger Stadium Saturday night with a single to rightfield off Johan Santana.
The Dodgers didn't get another hit until Scott Van Slyke singled to left leading off the eighth.
In all, Santana allowed three singles in eight shutout innings and Ike Davis hit a three-run home run as the Mets won their fourth in a row, 5-0.
Santana (6-4, 2.76 ERA) began the month with a no-hitter against St. Louis on June 1. He ended it with Saturday night's gem in which he walked two and struck out three. He threw 107 pitches and improved to 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA lifetime vs. the Dodgers.
"I'll tell you what," manager Terry Collins said. "After the second inning, he got better and better and better. When he went along, he got much better command of his fastball and changeup. I think he pitched, since the no-hitter, his best outing so far."
Santana will have one more start before the All-Star break, on Thursday against the Phillies. Collins indicated Saturday that Santana will start the first game after the break, with possible All-Star starter R.A. Dickey going the next day in Atlanta. On Friday, Dickey also allowed only three hits in eight shutout innings.
The Mets' defense, which committed three errors in one inning earlier on this road trip, was impressive Saturday night.
Santana made two fine plays on comebackers. Daniel Murphy started a slick 4-6-3 double play in the second inning with a backhanded stop, twirl and flip to short. David Wright barehanded a bunt single attempt in the fourth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda made running catches in the outfield.
"I think that's a key to winning," Santana said. "When you put all those things together and you play good defense, you've got a pretty good chance to win the ballgame."
And when you play the Dodgers lately, you have a pretty good chance to pitch a shutout. The Dodgers, who have lost seven in a row and 11 of 12, have scored in only one of their last 57 innings -- a two-run fourth in a loss to the Mets Thursday -- and have been shut out in five of their last six games.
The second-place Mets, who had lost four in a row before their latest streak, are 2½ games behind Washington in the National League East.
On Friday, with the Mets leading 2-0, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ordered righthander Aaron Harang to intentionally walk Wright with a man on second and one out in the fifth. Davis popped out, but Duda hit an RBI single and Murphy followed with a two-run double. The Mets won, 9-0.
"If we're going to succeed, that's how we're going to do it," Collins said. "By somebody else coming through when we need it. We've ridden the David Wright horse a lot."
Mattingly used the same strategy Saturday night and it had a similarly disastrous result. With the Mets ahead 2-0 on a pair of sacrifice flies, he had Nathan Eovaldi (0-5, 4.61 ERA) intentionally walk Wright with a runner on third and one out in the sixth. Davis, restored to the cleanup spot Friday, hit the next pitch into the right-centerfield bleachers for a 5-0 lead.
"Today I was able to get the job done," Davis said. "Just hitting a home run is a great feeling. Hopefully, I can continue to do some damage in situations like that, especially if other teams are going to walk David."
Of Davis' 11 home runs, six have been three-run shots. He also has a grand slam. His 45 RBIs are second on the Mets to Wright's 50 -- and that's despite spending most of the season under .200. Davis went 2-for-4 to up his average to .203.