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Houston at New York

Scoreboard
Houston (64-64)000000000080
N.Y. Mets (72-57) «12000000x340

Santana outduels Oswalt, leads surging Mets past Astros

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Johan Santana was not going to let his manager take him out after six innings, not when former minor league teammate Roy Oswalt was still out there dominating hitters.

Santana left an inning before Oswalt but he made two less mistakes than his fellow ace, and the New York Mets beat the Houston Astros 3-0 on Friday night.

"He pleaded, begged," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "'I don't want to come out of this game,' he said. ... I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's only fair to him what he's brought to the team."

Santana, who played in the Houston farm system with Oswalt for three years, allowed eight hits in seven innings, throwing a career-high 121 pitches -- including 11 to strike out Lance Berkman in the first. Oswalt went eight innings, retiring his last 20 batters after giving up three runs in the first two innings.

"He pitched eight innings so he beat me there," Santana said.

Brian Schneider hit a two-run homer and David Wright had an RBI bloop single as the Mets beat a team with a record over .500 after winning nine of 10 against lowly Washington, Pittsburgh and Atlanta to open a 2½-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East coming in. The Mets have gone 14-4 since being swept by Houston in a three-game series to start the month.

"Everybody's on a roll now," Santana said. "We're having fun in everything we're doing."

Ryan Church returned to New York's lineup after sitting out with post-concussion syndrome since July 5 and was met with a sustained standing ovation. Perhaps the team's best player before his second head injury in less than three months on May 20, Church beat out a grounder to deep third in the second inning for a hit and went 1-for-3.

"I was glad to just test it. It was really good to just bust it down the line," Church said of running out the hit.

Schneider then put to rest Church's pregame joking that he did not have a big bat behind him for protection by homering to right for a 3-0 lead. It was Schneider's third homer in his last five starts.

"Schneider, every year, starts to turn it on at the end and that's key for us," Church said.

That mistake by Oswalt -- and a wild pitch that set up Wright's RBI single in the first -- was all the Mets would need with Santana (12-7) on the mound.

The ace, let down by the Mets' bullpen on several occasions this season, won his third straight start and fifth consecutive decision.

He was not as sharp as he was in pitching his first shutout as a member of the Mets on Aug. 17. But he was unhittable with runners in scoring position.

"I think what he did tonight that was different from Pittsburgh was when he got 0-2 he went out of the strike zone so bad they could not swing at them, and when he came back they fouled them off," Manuel said.

The Astros twice had runners on second and third but a resilient Santana shut down Houston, the second time knocking down a sharp comebacker by Berkman with his glove and recovering to make the throw and end the fifth.

"You've got to get hits in key situations, the clutch hits. We've been scratching the last few days," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said.

Santana struck out five and walked one, and turned the game over to Aaron Heilman and Luis Ayala.

Heilman pitched a perfect eighth and Ayala, acquired on Sunday from Washington, earned his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 inning.

"Might see more of that as long as we're seeing more of those types of results," Manuel said of using Heilman and Ayala in the eighth and ninth.

Oswalt (11-9) gave up four hits, all in the first two innings. He gave up one hit in a 3-0 win over Randy Johnson and Arizona on Sunday and beat All-Star Tim Lincecum on Aug. 12.

Notes

  • In honor of Fiesta Latina, the Mets home whites had "Los Mets" written in script across the front.
  • 2B Luis Castillo (strained hip flexor) will be activated by New York on Saturday.
  • With his second-inning single, 3B Geoff Blum enacted a clause in his contract that ensures he'll return to Houston for 2009. He needed 250 plate appearances to get the guarantee.
  • The Astros activated INF Jose Castillo after claiming him off outright waivers from San Francisco.
  • After the game, the Mets said RHP Orlando Hernandez, who had been out since having foot surgery Oct. 18, will have an operation on his big toe in the next day or two, effectively ending his attempt to come back this season.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Johan Santana scatters eight hits in seven innings to win his third consecutive start.  (AP)
Johan Santana scatters eight hits in seven innings to win his third consecutive start. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

T. Wigginton
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
New York

B. Schneider
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Ty Wigginton, LF4020000 .304
Mark Loretta, 2B3010102 .271
Miguel Tejada, SS4010013 .285
Lance Berkman, 1B4010013 .328
Geoff Blum, 3B4010002 .234
Hunter Pence, RF4010011 .260
Darin Erstad, CF4010011 .294
Brad Ausmus, C3000003 .226
   a- Michael Bourn, PH1000010 .225
Roy Oswalt, P3000032 .160
   b- David Newhan, PH1000000 .200
Totals3508018  
a-struck out for Ausmus in the 9th
b-grounded out for Oswalt in the 9th
Batting
2B - Miguel Tejada (28, Santana), Darin Erstad (15, Santana)
Team LOB - 9
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (L,11-9) 8433061 4.23
WP - Roy Oswalt (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 101-74
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 10-8
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 28
New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS4110000 .300
Argenis Reyes, 2B2000000 .264
David Wright, 3B3011000 .295
Carlos Delgado, 1B3000011 .260
Carlos Beltran, CF3000011 .270
Daniel Murphy, LF3000010 .380
    Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
Ryan Church, RF3110000 .308
Brian Schneider, C3112010 .257
Johan Santana, P2000020 .136
    Endy Chavez, LF1000000 .272
Totals2734306  
Batting
HR - Brian Schneider (5, Oswalt)
SH - Argenis Reyes (4)
RBI - David Wright (99), Brian Schneider 2 (27)
Team LOB - 1
New York Mets
Johan Santana (W,12-7) 7800150 2.64
Aaron Heilman (H,14) 1000010 5.40
Luis Ayala (S,1) 1000020 5.49
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 121-86, Aaron Heilman 17-9, Luis Ayala 11-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 6-10, Aaron Heilman 2-0, Luis Ayala 1-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 30, Aaron Heilman 3, Luis Ayala 3
Game Information
Attendance - 52008
Game Time - 2:18
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Wally Bell, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Chad Fairchild