Santana throws a gem in Mets win

March 27, 2009 9:22:33 PM PDT
Johan Santana gave up one run on four hits over seven dominant innings, and the New York Mets rolled to a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday. Santana struck out six and needed only 75 pitches, even though it was only his third start in the Grapefruit League. The two-time Cy Young winner was slow to get going this spring because of elbow tightness, but is proving he'll be ready for opening day April 6 in Cincinnati.

"I knew in the beginning what I had to do to get ready," Santana said. "We had a little bit of a setback (with the elbow), but we were able to make some adjustments and put ourself back into it, and I'm feeling good. I'm doing all the things I need to do and doing my job and getting ready for opening day, and tonight was a good sign we are ready to go."

Nationals left-hander John Lannan, who also will start on opening day, gave up his first earned runs of the spring but said it was his best outing so far.

Lannan allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk in six innings. He had pitched 16 straight innings without giving up an earned run before the Mets managed two in the bottom of the second inning for a 2-1 lead.

"That's the best I've felt all spring, and that's good because it's getting close to opening day," Lannan said. "I got into some jams, and the guys on defense made great plays, and I just felt good out there. All my pitches were working."

Carlos Delgado led off the second with a single, and Carlos Beltran followed with a double before Fernando Tatis' run-scoring groudnout. Daniel Murphy drove in Beltran with a single to give New York a 2-1 lead.

"I was working behind the count, I was making good pitches, but they were just sitting back and getting a piece of them," Lannan said.

The southpaw was facing a Mets lineup that closely resembled their projected opening day lineup, with the exception of Tatis starting in right field in place of Ryan Church and Ramon Castro catching instead of Brian Schneider.

Murphy went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Delgado was 2-for-4, and the Mets added runs in the sixth and eighth innings to finish the scoring.

The Nationals scored their lone run on a triple by Alberto Gonzalez in the second.

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched the eighth inning in his Grapefruit League debut and allowed two hits while striking out two. He is scheduled to pitch again Saturday.

"K-Rod has a true instinct for pitching and knowing the opposing hitter," Manuel said. "I'm very excited to watch him."

Notes: The Mets reassigned INF Jose Valetin to minor league camp following Friday's game, adding to the six moves announced prior to the game. They cut pitcher Ron Villone, reassigned pitcher Nelson Figueroa, catcher Rene Rivera and infielder Andy Green to minor league camp, and optioned pitcher Carlos Muniz and outfielder Cory Sullivan.