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LOS ANGELES -- Johan Santana is amply pleased with how his season is going. So are the New York Mets, who were hoping for the best when their lefty ace returned after missing all of last year while recovering from shoulder surgery.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner didn't need the no-hitter he pitched against St. Louis on June 1 to demonstrate how close to his old form he is. There have been several other examples, including Saturday, when Santana scattered three hits over eight innings and sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to their seventh straight loss, 5-0.
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"Coming into spring training, there were a lot of question marks. So I'm very happy to be at this point right now and very happy the way everything has gone," Santana said. "There were a couple of tough games, but the good thing is that I feel good and I'm still competing. That's the key for me. I'm just hoping that I stay consistent the whole year."
In his fifth start since pitching the first no-hitter in Mets' history, Santana (6-4) did not give up a hit between Dee Gordon's leadoff single in the first inning and Scott Van Slyke's leadoff single in the eighth. Tony Gwynn Jr. singled two batters later and both runners advanced on Adam Kennedy's groundout. But Gordon grounded out to third.
"After the second inning he got better and better and better, and he got much better command of his fastball and his changeup," manager Terry Collins said. "This is his best outing since the no-hitter."
Santana struck out three and walked two while throwing 107 pitches, the sixth time he has reached triple digits -- including the 134 he had in the no-no. The four-time All-Star finished June 4-2 with a 2.77 ERA in six starts.
"I had never seen Johan Santana throw a pitch live until this year, so I had no idea what to expect," said Collins, who is in his second season as Mets' manager. "When I was sitting in the dugout watching him today, he was really starting to get his stuff working. [Pitching coach] Dan Warthen said to me: `Can you imagine him when he was 95 and 96 miles an hour?' And I couldn't. I can't even believe how good he was then -- because he's real good right now."
Ike Davis hit a three-run homer, helping keep Los Angeles sputtering. The Dodgers are in a 1-11 freefall, going from five games ahead in the NL West to a game behind the Giants. At one point, they led by as many as 7½ games on May 27.
Nathan Eovaldi (0-5) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander has pitched 41 innings in his seven starts this season, and his teammates have totaled just three runs while he's been in the game -- giving him the lowest run support in the majors.
The Dodgers have been on the losing end in every one of Eovaldi's outings, scoring fewer than three runs in six of them.
"I go out there not thinking about that," Eovaldi said. "I just try to compete, try not to let anybody score and give my team the best chance to win. We all know that it's going to be a challenge and a battle. You just try to make the best of it."
The Dodgers were shut out for the fifth time in six games -- including all three at San Francisco -- and have produced only two runs in their last 57 innings.
"When you're not scoring runs, it's frustrating," Van Slyke said. "I mean, when you look at the Mets today, they got a double, got him over and got him in in like three pitches. So when you're scoring runs, it looks easier than it actually is. I think it's just going to take one game where everyone's swinging the bat well to just kind of relax everybody and get things going."
Daniel Murphy's sacrifice fly in the second inning drove in Davis with the first run after he led off with a double. The Mets used the same formula to account for their second run -- a leadoff double by Murphy and a scoring flyball by Josh Thole.
"Yesterday, Murphy and
|Johan Santana allows three hits and no runs in eight innings as the Mets shut out the Dodgers for the second consecutive game. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|New York Mets|
|Andres Torres, CF||4||1||1||0||1||1||3||.209|
|Ruben Tejada, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.309|
|David Wright, 3B||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||.355|
|Ike Davis, 1B||4||2||2||3||0||0||0||.203|
|Lucas Duda, RF||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.258|
|Daniel Murphy, 2B||3||1||2||1||0||0||1||.280|
|Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF||4||0||2||0||0||1||2||.275|
|Josh Thole, C||3||0||0||1||0||0||3||.264|
|Johan Santana, P||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.103|
|a- Omar Quintanilla, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.261|
|Bobby Parnell, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Santana in the 9th|
|2B - Ike Davis (13, Eovaldi), Daniel Murphy (21, Eovaldi), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (11, Lindblom)|
|HR - Ike Davis (11, Eovaldi)|
|SF - Daniel Murphy (2), Josh Thole (1)|
|RBI - Ike Davis 3 (45), Daniel Murphy (38), Josh Thole (10)|
|SB - Andres Torres (9, 3rd base off Eovaldi/Ellis)|
|PK - Andres Torres (2, Eovaldi)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Murphy-Tejada-Davis|
|New York Mets|
|Johan Santana (W,6-4)||8||3||0||0||2||3||0||2.76|
|Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 107-71, Bobby Parnell 6-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 9-11, Bobby Parnell 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Johan Santana 28, Bobby Parnell 3|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Dee Gordon, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.225|
|Elian Herrera, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.250|
|Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.297|
|Juan Rivera, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.261|
|A.J. Ellis, C||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||.286|
|Scott Van Slyke, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.175|
|Juan Uribe, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.205|
|Scott Elbert, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Todd Coffey, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Bobby Abreu, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.252|
|Josh Lindblom, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Tony Gwynn Jr., CF||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.259|
|Nate Eovaldi, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Adam Kennedy, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.217|
|a-flied out for Coffey in the 8th|
|SB - Dee Gordon (25, 2nd base off Santana/Thole)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Outfield Assists - Scott Van Slyke 1|
|DP - Van Slyke-J. Rivera|
|E - A.J. Ellis (5, Throwing), Dee Gordon (15, Dropped fly)|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Nate Eovaldi (L,0-5)||5.1||7||5||5||1||0||1||4.61|
|IBB - Wright by Nate Eovaldi|
|Pitches-Strikes - Nate Eovaldi 86-50, Scott Elbert 25-13, Todd Coffey 16-11, Josh Lindblom 17-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nate Eovaldi 6-9, Scott Elbert 1-2, Todd Coffey 2-1, Josh Lindblom 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Nate Eovaldi 23, Scott Elbert 5, Todd Coffey 4, Josh Lindblom 5|
|Attendance - 44217|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 78|
|Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Brian Gorman, Third Base - Todd Tichenor|