Cubs
Mets
2 - 6 Final
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Santana, Mets end three-game slide

Sep 24, 2008 - 5:06 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- In order to avoid a repeat of last September's collapse, the New York Mets need Johan Santana to continue being effective and Jose Reyes to deliver in the clutch.

Both things happened Tuesday as Santana pitched eight strong innings and Reyes delivered a three-run triple in a four-run sixth inning as New York rallied for a crucial 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

David Wright also hit a two-run double with the bases loaded in the fifth and Carlos Delgado doubled and scored the go-ahead run on an error in the sixth.

Snapping a three-game losing streak, New York (87-70) got back on track in its push toward the playoffs, maintaining a one-game lead in the National League wild card over the Milwaukee Brewers (86-71), who edged the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-5, thanks to a game-winning home run by Prince Fielder.

The Mets also pulled within 1 1/2 games of the NL East Division-leading Philadelphia Phillies (89-69), who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

Santana (15-7) won his eighth decision in a row, allowing an RBI double to Kosuke Fukadome in the second and a run-scoring single to Reed Johnson in the third among seven hits. The lefthander also tied a season high with 10 strikeouts while throwing a career-high 125 pitches.

"Every game for me is important," said Santana, who had the highest pitch count for a Met since Orlando Hernandez threw 130 in Pittsburgh on August 14, 2007. "When you have a game like that, it's very special. Every situation that I have and something like that happens where you're losing, you're trying to stop losing a series or something like that, I just try to do my job.

"It is a challenge and when there's a challenge, you know I'm going to be there. I'm going to be ready for it."

Santana is now 8-0 with a 2.26 ERA in his last 15 starts since July 9 and has allowed two runs or fewer in 12 of those outings.

Some of those victories include a complete game over St. Louis on July 25 a day after a 14-inning loss taxed the bullpen, a win in Washington on August 12 after a bullpen meltdown against Pittsburgh and a victory over Philadelphia here on September 7 after the Mets lost the first two games of the series.

"In the second half, every big game and Johan's turn was due, he's stepped up," New York manager Jerry Manuel said. "He stepped up big tonight."

"He's a guy that love the challenge," Wright added. "It seems the bigger the game, the bigger the situation - he steps up."

The big effort enabled the Mets to end their skid, but like many of their recent victories it was not an easy finish.

After Santana went eight innings for the fifth time, lefthander Pedro Feliciano gave up consecutive one-out singles to Henry Blanco and Micah Hoffpauir in the ninth, creating a save situation for Luis Ayala.

Acquired from Washington in August, Ayala got pinch hitter Mike Fontenot on a first-pitch groundout to first base and retired pinch hitter Daryle Ward for his ninth save in 11 opportunities.

For four innings, it appeared that Santana would take a hard-luck loss and the Mets would face further doubts about their ability to avoid a second September meltdown in as many years. They managed just two hits and three baserunners against Cubs spot starter Sean Marshall.

David Wright began the comeback off Marshall by getting just his fourth hit in 17 at-bats with the bases loaded when he lined a 1-0 fastball to left field.

"I've had many problems with runners in scoring position," said Wright, who had been hitless in his previous 11 at-bats with the bases full. "But I'm glad I could come through. It's a big at-bat."

That at-bat was set up by Luis Castillo drawing a walk and Santana reaching on a bizarre infield single after his broken bat hit the ball to slow it down and create confusion for Marshall and shortstop Ronny Cedeno.

"I was trying to track the ball but the bat kind of caught my attention," Marshall said. "I didn't know if the bat hit the ball twice. It hit in front of me and back there with Ronny, but it definitely was a tough play to make for us."

The Mets went ahead for good in the sixth, a rally that was started when a bloop by Delgado bounced on the foul line in left field, enabling the first baseman to take a double. Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano took a slow approach to the ball and it appeared that the Mets had the spark they needed.

New York continued its rally when Castro singled back to pitcher Chad Gaudin (4-2). The reliever rushed his throw trying to get the slow-footed catcher and the ball went past first baseman Derrek Lee, allowing Delgado to score.

Those hits were the first of four in a row off Gaudin, who was replaced by Kevin Hart with the bases loaded. Two pitches later, the Mets had a four-run lead as Reyes tripled to the right field corner.

"That's a great feeling," Reyes said. "That's one of the bigger games of the season for us. We need that win. That's the most important thing right now."

It was Reyes' 200th hit of the season but more importantly, his fourth hit in 21 at-bats with the bases loaded.

"It's a big hit for him," Manuel said of Reyes, who batted .205 last September as the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games to play. "It was definitely a big hit for him. There is no doubt that for him, for the team and what we go through, there is a certain weight that is lifted when he gets those types of hits in clutch situations."

Given the four-run cushion, Santana kept it but did encounter some trouble with two outs in the eighth. He gave up a single to Johnson and walked Mark DeRosa on a close 3-2 pitch but got out of the jam when rookie Casey McGehee grounded out to the shortstop Reyes.

"With him it's basically game over," Castro said of Santana, who has seen the bullpen blow seven games for him.

For the Cubs, the game was of little consequence.

After clinching their second straight divisional title Saturday and securing the NL's best record with Monday's win, the Cubs opted to rest starting third baseman Aramis Ramirez, shortstop Ryan Theriot, catcher Geovanny Soto on Tuesday. They also started Marshall to align their rotation for the division series, which could be against the Mets.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 1
    NY METS 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 x 6 9 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CHN - SEAN MARSHALL, CHAD GAUDIN (6TH), KEVIN HART (6TH), ANGEL
    GUZMAN (7TH) AND HENRY BLANCO
    NYM - JOHAN SANTANA, PEDRO FELICIANO (9TH), LUIS AYALA
    (9TH) AND RAMO

    Sep 23 9:58 PM
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    Yankee82 Added 5 roots

    Cubs 2, Mets 6  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 23 9:18 PM


  • NL
    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY JOSE REYES SCORED RYAN CHURCH, DANIEL MURPHY AND
    JOHAN SANTANA.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, J REYES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2
    NY METS 6 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR NY METS: L CASTILLO (.247, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Cubs 2, Mets 6  Bot 6, 0 OutsSep 23 9:00 PM


  • NL
    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY CHAD GAUDIN ALLOWED CARLOS DELGADO TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R CASTRO ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2
    NY METS 3 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR NY METS: R CHURCH (.280, 0-FOR-2)

    Cubs 2, Mets 3  Bot 6, 0 OutsSep 23 8:50 PM


  • NL
    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DAVID WRIGHT SCORED NICK EVANS AND JOHAN SANTANA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, D WRIGHT ON FIRST, L CASTILLO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2
    NY METS 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR NY METS: C BELTRAN (.281, 0-FOR-2)

    Cubs 2, Mets 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:31 PM
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    Cubs 1, Mets 0  Top 3, 0 OutsSep 23 7:52 PM


  • NL
    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY REED JOHNSON SCORED RONNY CEDENO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R JOHNSON ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2
    NY METS 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M DEROSA (.284, 0-FOR-1)

    Cubs 2, Mets 0  Top 3, 0 OutsSep 23 7:52 PM


  • NL
    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY KOSUKE FUKUDOME SCORED CASEY MCGEHEE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, K FUKUDOME ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1
    NY METS 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: H BLANCO (.280, 3 HR, 12 RBI)

    Cubs 1, Mets 0  Top 2, 0 OutsSep 23 7:33 PM
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    Cubs vs. MetsSep 23 10:04 AM
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