Santos' RBI single gives Mets win over Marlins

May 29, 2009 9:17:49 PM PDT
Omir Santos was supposed to go back to the minors once Brian Schneider came off the disabled list. The catcher played so well that he forced the New York Mets to change their plans. Santos hit a game-ending single in the 11th inning and also homered in the fifth, leading New York to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins on Friday night.

Santos was rewarded after the game when the Mets traded backup catcher Ramon Castro and about $1.4 million to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Lance Broadway, ensuring the rookie will stay with the club when Schneider is activated Saturday.

"On a night like tonight, when Omir Santos plays the way he has, it makes the decision easy for us," said general manager Omar Minaya, who acknowledged being surprised by Santos' speedy progress.

Gary Sheffield led off the 11th with a single to left off Brian Sanches (1-1), who threw over to first several times to check on the aging slugger with David Wright up. After Wright struck out - smashing his bat when he reached the dugout - Sheffield stole second and went to third when Ronny Paulino's errant throw went into center field.

"We knew that he was trying to inch off and take a bag there," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He still has that capability in him. We just threw the ball away. We threw the ball out of the infield, and got ourselves in a situation nobody wants to be in."

Fernando Tatis was hit by a pitch before Santos dumped Sanches' first pitch into left field to give New York its fourth consecutive win and sixth in seven games.

"Santos will be on this team, no doubt about it," manager Jerry Manuel said before the trade was announced. "He's a major league hitter. The surprising thing is he has hit and hit well. It looks as if there is no panic or anxiety when he is in those situations."

Pedro Feliciano (2-1) got one out to earn the win for New York, which improved to 16-8 at Citi Field.

The injury riddled Mets welcomed All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran back to the lineup and Schneider could return for the second game of the series. Beltran, who missed two games with a bone bruise below his right knee, went 0 for 4 but made a nice running catch on Emilio Bonifacio's sinking liner in the third before throwing to second to double off Wes Helms.

Castro's trade solves what could have been a sticky problem for New York. Santos has hit safely in 16 of his 20 starts and has 12 RBIs in his last 14 games, earning a spot on the team.

"I just go every day and play hard," he said.

Santos, the only one of the three with minor league options, bolstered his case to stay with a leadoff drive that tied it in the fifth. He hit an 0-2 pitch from Sean West over the wall in left for his third of the season.

West pitched seven sharp innings in his second career start, yielding just four hits. The 6-foot-8 left-hander has allowed three runs in 12 innings this season but is still looking for his first major league win.

"It's a huge confidence booster," West said. "Facing that lineup, that's a very good lineup. That's actually the first time I've gone seven innings this year. What a place to be."

The Marlins went ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Chris Coghlan led off with a triple to center and scored on Dan Uggla's sacrifice fly.

Pelfrey gave up one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings for New York, continuing an impressive run but failing to beat Florida yet again. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five outings and is 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA in six starts this month.

"My command was good but it wasn't as down as I'd like," he said. "I know if I can pound the strike zone I can go deep into games and not walk guys."

Pelfrey hasn't recorded a win against the Marlins since his major league debut on July 8, 2006. He is 1-5 with a 5.36 ERA in nine career starts against them.

Notes: Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup with tightness in his right groin. He pinch hit in the 10th and grounded out. Ramirez left Tuesday night's 5-3 loss at Philadelphia in the third, shortly after he beat out a grounder to shortstop for an infield single. ... Gonzalez said utilityman Alfredo Amezaga (bruised left knee) likely won't be ready to come off the disabled list Monday when he's eligible to be activated. ... The Mets also acquired OF Emil Brown from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named. Brown and Broadway both were assigned to Triple-A Buffalo.