Still no saving the Mets
Santana thwarted by pen, Marlins
NEW YORK - The new Mets bullpen was no help for Johan Santana yesterday.
Cody Ross hit a two-run single off J.J. Putz in the eighth inning, Jorge Cantu cracked his third homer in two games, and the Florida Marlins rallied for a 4-3 victory over New York.
"We were happy to squeeze one out. The ninth inning is always different, but we got out of it," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Matt Lindstrom escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting pinch-hitter Omir Santos on a game-ending popup. In a curious move, Mets manager Jerry Manuel batted the inexperienced Santos for fellow catcher and righthanded hitter Ramon Castro, who had two hits and an RBI.
"I thought Santos had a better shot," Manuel said. "When you have a little shorter swing you have a better chance against a guy throwing in the upper 90s."
Santos was out in the bullpen, where he had just warmed up a reliever, when he was summoned. Told to take his time, he hustled up the tunnel and finally emerged from the dugout after a break in the action.
"I was trying to delay the game, too," Manuel said. "I was trying to do anything I could to get the guy off a little bit, but it didn't work."
New York finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 14 overall, a recurring problem all season.
Josh Johnson went toe to toe with Santana for the second time in 17 days and left trailing, 3-2, after serving up Fernando Tatis's tiebreaking homer in the sixth, upheld after a replay review.
Putz (1-2) entered in the eighth and walked his first two batters before Ronny Paulino's sacrifice advanced both runners. Ross lined a single up the middle, sending Florida (13-8) to its second consecutive victory following a seven-game skid.
Missing star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins took two of three from New York for the second time this season and improved to 13-5 against the NL East.
Lindstrom, a former Mets prospect, walked his first two batters before throwing a called third strike past struggling David Wright. Ryan Church grounded out and Tatis was hit by a pitch, bringing up Santos.
"It wasn't that pretty, really, but I got it done. That's what matters," said Lindstrom, who earned his fifth save and second in two days.
A dreadful Mets bullpen cost Santana seven potential wins last season - including five meltdowns that came in the ninth inning. The team thought it solved that problem by signing record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez and trading for Putz, but that wasn't the case yesterday.
"I've been in this situation before where I have to come out of the game and hand the ball to the bullpen," said Santana, 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in five outings. "Even though I didn't get the win this time, I trust them."