Santana shuts down Astros for 3-0 win

August 22, 2008 7:14:53 PM PDT
Johan Santana allowed eight hits in seven innings, and the New York Mets took advantage of the only two mistakes made by Roy Oswalt to beat the Houston Astros 3-0 on Friday night. Brian Schneider hit a two-run homer and David Wright had an RBI 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.

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.

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.

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 straight decision.

He was not as sharp as he was in pitching his first shutout as a member of the Mets on Aug. 17. He needed 121 pitches to get through seven innings, but he was unhittable with runners in scoring position.

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 Lance Berkman with his glove and recovering to make the throw and end the fifth.

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.

Oswalt (11-9) gave up four hits in the first two innings. He retired his last 19 batters after giving up Schneider's fifth homer in the second. 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.