NEW YORK-- The Mets got exactly what they needed out of their ace Johan Santana today, getting a much-needed win in the first-half finale. Instead of falling to six games out of first place, they move to within four games of the Braves, and stay close in the NL Wild Card race entering the All-Star break.
Johan Santana for a third consecutive start was fantastic, shutting out the Braves over seven innings, throwing 107 pitches, allowing five hits, he walked three and struck out five.
Santana got into some trouble in the third, allowing a leadoff double to Melky Cabrera, but he was erased at third on a bunt attempt, ending a possible threat.
The Mets offense looked lifeless again until the third when a two-out rally was sparked. Angel Pagan, trying to make a final statement with Carlos Beltran on the horizon, tripled and scored on an Alex Cora single.
Santana battled through his toughest inning in the fourth, loading the bases, but striking out pitcher Derek Lowe to end the inning.
In the fifth, after Pagan lead off with a single, Cora hit into a hit-and-run double play. Shortstop Yunel Escobar made a leaping throw to first on the backend to retire two.
In the sixth, Ike Davis lead off with a monster 445-foot home run to left-center field, his 11th of the season, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Davis went 1-for-3 with a walk in his final game of the first half of his rookie season.
Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was pulled after 5.1 innings, and was so mad that he threw over the Gatorade dispenser in the dugout. He didn't do poorly though, giving up two runs on eight hits, he walked two and struck out four.
Bobby Parnell pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez, for a change, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Mets added a run in the eighth as insurance for Rodriguez, on a Josh Thole pinch-single, scoring Jesus Feliciano. Feliciano came in to run for Chris Carter, who started in left in place of the struggling Jason Bay. Bay sat the game on his own bobble head day, and will have four days off before trying to get back on track.
Angel Pagan had another big day, going 3-for-5. Jerry Manuel has announced his lineup for Thursday's opener in San Francisco, and it includes both Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan.
The lineup will be as follows: Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan (RF), David Wright, Carlos Beltran (CF), Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada (2B), and R.A. Dickey.
That means Jeff Francoeur will already sit for Pagan, but he will probably get to start in the series against left-handed pitchers.
The Mets close out the first half at 48-40, four games out of first place, and will now have 74 games remaining, trying to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
They'll begin the second half Thursday night in San Francisco, with R.A. Dickey on the mound.
NL East standings (top 3 teams)
NY Mets 48-40 (4)
Philadelphia 47-40 (4 1/2)
*Next series probable pitchers (Mets):
New York: R.A. Dickey (2010: 6-2, 2.77 ERA)
New York: Jon Niese (2010: 6-3, 3.61 ERA)
New York: Mike Pelfrey (2010: 10-4, 3.58 ERA)
New York: Johan Santana (2010: 7-5, 2.98 ERA)
*Giants pitchers are TBD
New York Mets:
July 15-18 @ San Francisco Giants
July 19-21 @ Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants:
July 15-18 vs. New York Mets
July 19-21 @ Los Angeles Dodgers
*All-Star break is July 12-14