Sports

Short Night For Santana,Long Night For Mets

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Johan Santana kevin Cox Getty Images Sport

By PAUL NEWBERRY   AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) _ The Atlanta Braves finally beat the New York
Mets, taking advantage of shaky defense to hand Johan Santana the
shortest start of his career in a 9-3 victory Tuesday night.

Tyler Pastornicky’s two-run double highlighted a five-run second
that finished off Santana. Randall Delgado (2-0) won it for the
Braves, who lost their first four games against the Mets this
season.

Two costly errors _ Jason Bay dropped a fly ball, Ike Davis made
a wild throw _ led to a pair of unearned runs against Santana
(0-2), who allowed just one run in his first two games.
He was lifted after 1 1-3 innings, finished off by Jason
Heyward’s run-scoring single that made it 6-0. Santana had never
gone less than three innings in his previous 265 starts.

The night turned cool and blustery after an afternoon storm
front moved through Atlanta, forcing the teams to use the indoor
cages for batting practice.

The swirling winds led to some adventurous plays in the field.
Leading off in the bottom of the first, Michael Bourn lifted a fly
ball to deep left that looked like an easy out for Bay. After all,
he had leaped above the wall the night before to prevent a homer by
Jack Wilson.

This time, the ball deflected off the side of Bay’s glove at the
edge of the warning track, an error that left Bourn at second base.
He tagged and went to third on Heyward’s fly out, then did it again
on Chipper Jones’ sacrifice fly.

The Braves blew it open in the second. Dan Uggla led off with a
walk, Matt Diaz singled to center and Freddie Freeman kept fouling
pitches off until he got one he liked from Santana. On the 11th
pitch of the at-bat, the first baseman lined an opposite-field
double into the left-field corner to bring home Uggla.

Pastornicky followed with another opposite-field double, this
one just inside the first-base bag to give Atlanta a 4-0 lead.

Then, with Delgado putting down a bunt, Davis made an ill-advised
decision to take a shot at Pastornicky instead of the sure out at
first. It would’ve been close even with a good throw, but Davis
flung it far wide of the bag, the ball skipping down the left-field
line while Pastornicky trotted home.

Bourn finally made the first out of the inning on a grounder to
second, but Heyward’s RBI single to left-center ended Santana’s
night. He gave up four hits, walked one and didn’t strike out
anyone _ the first time that’s happened to him as a starter.

The Mets took advantage of an Atlanta defensive miscue in the
fourth. Bay lifted a popup behind second base, but Uggla never saw
it and none of his teammates arrived in time to make the catch. The
ball fell to the ground, giving Bay a fortuitous double.

He scored on the first of three straight two-out hits, Josh
Thole’s single to center. Kirk Nieuwenhuis kept it going, and
pitch-hitter Mike Baxter ripped an RBI single up the middle to make
it 6-2. Delgado escaped a potentially big inning by getting Ruben
Tejada to pop out to Freeman against the railing in front of the
Braves’ first-base dugout.

Tejada swiped at his bat in disgust, knowing he had missed a
chance to get the Mets back in the game.

The Braves regained their six-run lead in the fifth against
Ramon Ramirez. Diaz had a sacrifice fly and Freeman drove in his
second run of the night with a two-out single.

Delgado went 5 1-3 innings and allowed three runs and seven
hits. Kris Medlen got out of a jam in the sixth by striking out
David Wright, pitching 2 2-3 scoreless innings. Juan Francisco
added a pinch-hit homer for the Braves in the eighth.

NOTES: Santana failed to get a strikeout for the first time
since June 22, 2003, when he was pitching in relief for Minnesota.
… Mets OF Andres Torres, who re-injured his left calf on opening
day, continues to rehab in Florida. He’s been doing some outfield
drills, but manager Terry Collins said the speedster will not be
rushed back. “This guy is not leaving there until this guy has
absolutely sprinted at top speed,” Collins said. “We got him for
a reason.” … Braves LF Martin Prado got the night off. Heyward
moved up to bat second for the first time this season, while Diaz
took over in left field.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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