JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Johan Santana cleared another hurdle in his comeback from shoulder surgery.
The New York Mets left-hander pitched six innings in his longest outing of spring training in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
"We talked about the process in getting him ready for the season. There are some minor steps, there are some baby steps and there are some giant steps," manager Terry Collins said. "Today was a giant step forward."
Santana allowed a run on six hits in six innings with six strikeouts.
"I had a good day," he said. "I was able to look at all of my pitches. I threw some good ones out there."
Santana worked six innings for the first time since Aug. 28, 2010 against the Astros. The lone run came on an RBI single by Lance Berkman in the sixth.
"It's not about one inning or that pitch or what they're doing," Santana said. "It's about going deeper in the game."
Collins is optimistic about Santana return to major league action. He's lined up to start the April 5 opener at home against the Braves.
"Nobody's come back from this operation," Collins said. "We're certainly hoping he'll be the exception to that rule."
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook was even stingier, working six scoreless innings while allowing three hits. Westbrook has allowed one earned run in 15 innings.
Westbrook is the first St. Louis pitcher to go six innings.
Jon Jay hit a run-scoring single in the ninth off Garrett Olson. The Mets had tied it in the top of the inning on Jordany Valdespin's home run off Fernando Salas.
The Mets are a major-league worst 4-12 this spring, while the Cardinals are 10-4.