With runs seemingly coming as often as a visible shooting star, the Mets seamed to be in the same situation Saturday afternoon that they always seam to be in when ace-pitcher Johan Santana takes the mound.
On Saturday, however, the Mets (43-47) finally were able to knock a few runs across the board to give Johan a little bit more breathing room then he is used to, by beating the Atlanta Braves 5-1 in Atlanta. The win marks Santana's 11th on the season in 18 outings.
Despite being 0-4 in his last six starts against the Braves, Santana was able to hit his spots and keep the Braves off the board throughout his seven-innings in which he allowed five hits while also striking-out five. Holding a 2-0 lead as he left the game after the seventh, the bullpen made their starter sweat it, as usual, when Chipper Jones blasted a solo-home run to start the eighth of Pedro Feliciano. Three relief pitchers and three batters later, Brian Stokes came back from a 3-1 hole to strike-out pinch-hitter Greg Norton with the bases juiced to end the inning with the Mets ahead 2-1.
The Mets iced the game in the ninth by scoring three runs. Yes, the New York Mets scored three runs in the ninth inning to win the game. Angel Pagon hit a triple to drive in the first run and former Brave Jeff Francoeur knocked his second hit against his ex-team to drive in the second. Then Luis Castillo completed a suicide squeeze bunt to drive in the third and final run of the inning.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth-inning in a no-save situation to seal the deal for the Mets who picked up just their sixth win in 19 games. Hopefully the win will spark a fire and set the Mets on a new path, a winning path, for the second half of the baseball season.
Braves' manager Bobby Cox said of Santana, "When you face a guy like Santana, you have to do everything you can to get a runner on. He was good today. Today goes to Santana for me."
Bits and pieces, small plays and little things all put together helped the struggling Mets pick up a win against their N.L. East rivals tonight. Solid pitching, clutch hits, small rallies and the knock-out blow in the ninth all tallied together were enough to knock off Atlanta (45-46).
"We do it all together. We did everything it takes. When everyone does his job, the result is very good.", Santana said of his team after the game.
Jerry Manuel, the Mets' manager, was also a happy fellow following Saturday's win.
"It's gratifying to put together runs in that way," he said. "We did a lot of things like that today."
A satisfied manager and ace-pitcher are good things to hear from a ball club desperately in need of something good. The season is still young, and every win now till September is key if the Mets want to be playing baseball in October and November.