Two-run blast by Mets' Davis caps rally, backs Santana
CLEVELAND - Johan Santana has pitched well at times and lost, because the Mets could not back him up with runs.
Santana wasn't so strong early last night, but the Mets had his back with a five-run fifth inning.
After Santana and the Mets fell into a 4-1 hole, some smart hitting and baserunning brought them even. Then Ike Davis crushed a two-run homer to centerfield to snap a 4-4 tie and send the Mets to their fifth straight win, a 7-6 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Santana (5-3, 3.13 ERA) gave up four runs in the first four innings but retired 10 of the final 11 Indians hitters he faced to win for the first time since he beat the Yankees on May 23.
"It's about time we give him an opportunity to relax," Jerry Manuel said of Santana, who had gotten 2.54 runs per game of support in his previous 13 starts. "It's good we scored some runs for him."
How they scored them was first a study in small-ball: Consecutive bunt singles by Alex Cora and Jose Reyes, with Indians starter Justin Masterson (2-6) throwing the ball away on Reyes' hit, allowed the first run to score in the fifth.
With one out and two runners in scoring position, David Wright hit a ball deep to Indians shortstop Jason Donald's left. He slid, popped up and made the poor decision to throw to first. Not only was Wright easily safe, Reyes never stopped running from second and beat Russell Branyan's throw home.
That was a two-run infield single for Wright and a tie game.
"[I knew I was going home] before I got to third base," said Reyes, who also walked, stole second and scored from third on another of Wright's infield hits in the first. "A lot of people say, 'Speed kills.' We got a lot of infield hits tonight, we've got some speed, and we need to use it."
Davis tried to join the small-ball parade when he dropped a bunt down the third-base line against the infield shift. It rolled foul - luckily for him.
He then launched a 2-and-2 fastball from Masterson over the 400-foot sign in center, his eighth home run in 181 at-bats.
"He's an unselfish player and he knows what it takes to win a game," Manuel said. "It always appears that his home runs are big home runs for us."
Santana settled down after he got the lead back, throwing strike one far more often. He had made a couple of key mistakes in a three-run Indians second, allowing a solo homer by Travis Hafner and a two-out, two-run single by Trevor Crowe. Santana wasn't dominant but he wasn't as ineffective as he's been at times over the last six weeks, either.
"I felt better," he said. "After we scored some runs, I just tried to get aggressive and protect that lead."
Francisco Rodriguez made things dicey in the ninth, allowing a two-out, two-run homer to former Yankee Shelley Duncan, but he got the final out for his 14th save.
"It's good to win a game like that," Santana said. "It's good to see the guys swinging the bats with confidence and taking advantage of mistakes, and that's what we did today."