Santana dominates Marlins as Mets keep hope aliveSep 27, 2008 - 11:06 PM By Doug Mittler PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- Johan Santana had no problem pitching on three days' rest and ensured that the final regular-season game at Shea Stadium will be a meaningful one.
Santana pitched a three-hitter and struck out nine as the New York Mets were able to bypass their struggling bullpen and defeat the Florida Marlins, 2-0, on Saturday.
With his team possibly facing elimination on Saturday, Mets manager Jerry Manuel pulled out all the stops, moving up Santana in the rotation to revamping his starting lineup.
The moves paid off thanks to Santana (16-7), who tossed his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career.
"That was gangsta. That's serious gangsta," said Manuel, offering the compliment he gives to outstanding performances.
Carlos Delgado and Ramon Martinez drove in runs for the Mets (89-72), who pulled even with Milwaukee (89-72) in the wild card race after the Brewers fell to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3.
New York officially was eliminated from the National League East race when the Philadelphia Phillies (91-70) defeated the Washington Nationals, 4-3, to claim their second straight division title.
Santana pitched on three days' rest for just the second time in his career. The only other time was for the Minnesota Twins in the 2004 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, as he tossed five innings of one-run ball but did not factor in the decision.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw a career-high 125 pitches Tuesday against the Cubs and needed 117 to defeat the Marlins on Saturday as he lowered his major league-leading ERA to 2.53.
"I was just going for it. I wasn't thinking about the pitch count or the last game," Santana said. "There's no tomorrow. That's the way I approached it."
Saturday marked the penultimate regular-season game at Shea Stadium. The Mets will play the final game at their home for the last 45 years on Sunday before it is demolished to provide parking space for their new home at Citi Field next season.
A postgame ceremony honoring the stadium and many former Mets stars will follow the game.
That game will now have extra meaning, as Oliver Perez takes the hill for the Mets to try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Last season, the Mets squandered a seven-game lead in the division over the last 2 1/2 weeks of the year.
"It would be a great way to send off this stadium, with a win and a playoff berth," Manuel said. "I'm sure the people here will be into every pitch."
Santana improved to 9-0 in his last 17 starts and has not lost since June 28. He became the first Mets pitcher to throw a shutout on three days' rest since David Cone in 1990.
"He's a winner," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It doesn't surprise me that he had that type of performance."
Santana allowed a two-out double to Josh Willingham in the ninth and got Cody Ross to fly out to the warning track - silencing the raucous Shea crowd for a few interminable moments - for the final out.
Santana also reached 200 strikeouts for the fifth straight season.
"I wish he could pitch tomorrow," Mets outfielder Ryan Church said.
The Marlins had their first serious threat in the fifth, loading the bases before John Baker lined out to right field to end the inning.
Ricky Nolasco (15-8) was the hard-luck loser, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings while striking out 10.
"I've reached a lot of my goals this year, but there are many things I can do to get better," said Nolasco, who lost for the first time since August 7.
Manuel shook up his batting order, moving Carlos Beltran up to second and Delgado to third while dropping David Wright to the cleanup spot. It paid off when the Mets pushed across a run in the first as Jose Reyes singled, stole second, went to third on Beltran's single and scored on Delgado's sacrifice fly.
Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez saved a run later in the inning when he made a diving stop on Daniel Murphy's ground ball and got a force at second base.
Martinez, a September call-up from Class AAA New Orleans who was making his third straight start at second base for the Mets, drove an RBI double into the right-center field gap in the fourth to score Murphy and make it a two-run game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FLORIDA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
NY METS 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 2 6 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: FLA - RICKY NOLASCO, MARK HENDRICKSON (8TH) AND JOHN BAKER
NYM - JOHAN SANTANA AND RAMON CASTRO
HOME RUNS: FLA - NONE
NYM - NONE
Sep 27 4:01 PM
AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY RAMON MARTINEZ SCORED DANIEL MURPHY.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R MARTINEZ ON SECOND, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 0
NY METS 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
DUE UP FOR NY METS: R CHURCH (.281, 0-FOR-1)
Marlins 0, Mets 2 Bot 4, 0 OutsSep 27 2:45 PM
AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
SACRIFICE FLY BY CARLOS DELGADO SCORED JOSE REYES.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C BELTRAN ON FIRST, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 0
NY METS 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
DUE UP FOR NY METS: D WRIGHT (.302, 33 HR, 124 RBI)
Marlins 0, Mets 1 Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 27 1:57 PM
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