Padres victims of Santana gem in 9-0 loss at Mets
By RICK FREEMAN
NEW YORK (AP) The Padres wound up on the wrong end of a vintage performance by Johan Santana. That power-hitting display by the New York Mets wasn't nearly as classic - though it was just as unwelcome to San Diego.
"He's throwing the ball how I remembered him," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Maybe the velocity is down, but he's locating them. We couldn't get any good consistent swings against him."
Santana pitched a four-hitter for his first shutout since 2010 and the New York Mets backed him with three home runs in a 9-0 win over the Padres on Saturday. Mike Nickeas hit New York's first grand slam of the season, and Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino also homered for the Mets.
The Padres, who have dropped five of six, lost outfielder Cameron Maybin to a right wrist injury. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. Maybin, hitting .216 after his 0 for 2 Saturday, has been taking extra batting practice.
"It has been kind of a thing lately, it just got a little worse today," Maybin said. "I couldn't hold on with two hands."
Clayton Richard (2-6) faced two batters over the minimum in his final five innings, thanks to a double play and a successful pickoff, after Hairston singled in the sixth. Overall, the left-hander allowed four runs in six innings, five hits, three walks and struck out five.
"I left two pitches over the middle of the plate and they took advantage of them." Richard said. "It's tough when you put your team in a hole from the get-go."
The Mets won for the fifth time in seven games and have homered in three straight games and their last four at Citi Field. Their modest output - five homers in the last three games - looked downright bountiful compared with the rest of the season - New York began the day 29th in the big leagues with 27 homers.
Santana's last shutout was Aug. 12, 2010, a 4-0 win over the Colorado Rockies that came less than a month before shoulder surgery cost him the rest of the year and all of 2011.
Santana didn't walk a batter and struck out seven. Two of the Padres hits were less than well-struck. Yonder Alonso hit a blooper in the first and Blake Tekotte had an infield single in the ninth, though he was erased on a double play.
Nickeas hit a grand slam off closer Dale Thayer with two outs in the eighth inning. Thayer was set to get some work in regardless of the game situation. He hadn't appeared since Sunday. Thayer, who has been closing since Huston Street went out with a strained muscle near his pitching shoulder.
"Dale has been outstanding for us, it's just one of those games where it just got away from him," Black said.
Fans stood and cheered after the Mets turned a double play in the ninth inning, and then Alonso hit a dribbler down the line. Santana fielded it, stood there waiting, and then tagged Alonso out to finish his 14th career game and ninth career shutout. Santana smacked the Padres' batter on his backside, then went to shake hands.
Santana (2-2) had gone without a decision in his last three starts, all Mets losses, and had six no-decisions in his first nine.
NOTES: Sunday's starter for the Padres is Edinson Volquez. The right-hander needs six strikeouts to overtake Anthony Bass (55) for the Padres' lead. Mets RHP R.A. Dickey will pitch for New York. The knuckleballer has fanned 51 and walked 16 in 57 1-3 innings. ... Padres 1B Alonso hit a blooper to shallow left-center in the first inning that fell in, giving him a hit in 25 of his last 27 games. ... Padres OF Will Venable, hitting .346 in his last 17 games, was on the bench against the left-handed Santana. ... Mets 3B David Wright went 0 for 3 with a walk, dropping his batting average to .390. He was hitting .405 after Thursday's game.
Updated May 26, 2012