On a day when it hit a record 103 degrees in the city, Santana steamed around the bases after capping a tenacious 12-pitch at-bat with his drive off the right-field foul screen.
That was all Santana needed to blank the team that led the NL in runs, homers and hitting. Santana struck out five and walked three in his seventh career shutout and first since 2008. The NL Central-leading Reds lost for the second time in seven games.
Santana (6-5) had won just once in his last seven starts, though Mets hitters shared the blame. The left-hander ranked among the bottom among big league pitchers in backing, evidenced by New York scoring only one run in his previous three outings.
Santana took off his batting helmet, saluted the crowd with his right hand and came out for a curtain call to acknowledge the cheers after his home run. He drew another ovation the next time up as the video board replayed the highlight — the first home run in 182 career at-bats for a lifetime .166 hitter.
It was still 96 degrees when Brandon Phillips led off the game with a double, but Santana didn’t allow another hit until Orlando Cabrera singled in the sixth. Santana ended that inning by retiring Scott Rolen on a harmless fly with two runners on base.
The Reds threatened in the ninth when Rolen singled with one out and left fielder Jason Bay dropped Jay Bruce’s flyball for an error. Mets manager Jerry Manuel strolled to the mound and, as fans implored him to leave in Santana, he did.
Santana rewarded his manager when he got Jonny Gomes on a lineout and Drew Stubbs grounded into a game-ending force.
Matt Maloney (0-1) lost in his first game for Cincinnati this season. He traveled in from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day, promoted because the Reds put pitcher Aaron Harang on the disabled list with lower back spasms.
Maloney retired the first seven batters. After rookie Ruben Tejada singled but was caught stealing, Santana stepped up in the third. He took a ball from the Reds lefty, then fouled off the next seven pitches. After a ball and two more fouls, Santana took another meaty cut and pulled a drive that hit halfway up the foul screen.
Jose Reyes returned to the Mets lineup after missing a week because of tightness in his lower back. A week before he goes to the All-Star game, the speedy Reyes beat out an infield single and a bunt hit.
Bay hit a two-run single in the sixth after an unusual play. With runners on first and second, Ike Davis hit a hard grounder that first baseman Joey Votto stopped. Votto bounced a wide throw to second, however, and shortstop Cabrera was able to make a relay to Maloney at first for an out. That moved the runners into position for Bay’s hit.
The heat took its toll on the players and fans. Not every Mets player was on the field for batting practice and the Reds did their pregame stretching in an indoor batting cage.
Extra emergency personnel were on duty and bags of ice were available at all fan assistance centers. Even so, many fans left early because of the weather.
NOTES: Santana’s last shutout was Sept. 27, 2008, against Florida. He pitched his first complete game of the season and 10th of his career. ... John Maine was the last Mets pitcher to hit a home run. He did it on July 24, 2007. ... CFs Angel Pagan and Stubbs were the centers of attention. The Mets began the game with three straight flyouts to Stubbs — those were the only putouts. Pagan wound up catching nine flyballs.