The New York Mets turned to Johan Santana on Tuesday, in need of a win and he came through for them in a big way.
The Mets came into the game in the midst of a three game losing streak, with shouts of collapse all around, trailing the Phillies by 2.5 games in the NL East.
Santana did what was needed, and then some, extending himself to a career high 125 pitches in eight innings of work. He allowed just two runs on seven hits while striking out 10 Cubs.
Santana even got the job done at the plate, singling in the fifth and scoring on David Wright's two-out, two-RBI single that tied the game. The next inning, Santana provided the Mets with a chance to tack on some more runs. With the bases loaded, he hit a groundball and busted out of the box, sprinting as hard as he could and beat out the throw, preventing a double play.
Jose Reyes then lined a bases-clearing triple down the first base line, giving the Mets a four-run cushion.
After Pedro Feliciano allowed two men to reach in the ninth, Luis Ayala shut the door on the Cubs for his ninth save of the season.
The Braves defeated the Phillies, so New York moves to within 1.5 games of the NL East leaders. With Milwaukee winning, the Mets lead in the Wild Card race remains at one game.
Hoping to string together a win streak against the NL Central Champion Cubs, the Mets send lefty Oliver Perez to the mound tomorrow. Perez (10-7, 4.10) has performed well in big games in his career with the Mets.
The Cubs send Carlos Zambrano (14-6, 3.77) to the mound, just nine days removed from his no hitter; however, Zambrano imploded in his last start allowing eight earned runs in 1.2 innings. When manager Lou Piniella came out of the dugout to remove him, Zambrano tried to rush to the clubhouse before his manager even reached the mound, but the stern Piniella quickly corrected him.
Amongst injury woes, Zambrano has posted a 7.02 ERA since August 1st.
Rookie Daniel Murphy knocked a pinch hit single and scored and later drew a walk for the Mets. Expect to see Murphy (.342 avg.) get the start in left tomorrow against the right handed Zambrano.