Despite the arrival of Roy Halladay in the division, Johan Santana maintained in spring training that he had retained the label as the National League East’s top pitcher.
That’s certainly looking off-base.
A day after Halladay shut out the Mets, Santana received the worst drubbing of his career. The Philadelphia Phillies, who battered Mike Pelfrey for six runs in the fourth inning Saturday, chased Santana in what became a nine-run fourth Sunday night. The Phillies won the rubber game, 11-5, to end the Mets’ five-day run atop the division.
The 10 runs allowed by Santana surpassed the nine he surrendered last season at Yankee Stadium for the most in his career.
Already shaky, Santana’s undoing came with two out in the fourth, when 47-year-old opposing pitcher Jamie Moyer fouled off the ace’s first full-count offering, then walked on the next pitch to force in a run. Shane Victorino followed with a grand slam.
When Chase Utley went deep two batters later for his second extra-base hit of the inning -- and the fourth homer allowed by Santana, matching a career high -- manager Jerry Manuel pulled him. The last time a Mets pitcher allowed 10 or more runs while getting fewer than Santana’s 11 outs: Calvin Schiraldi on June 11, 1985, when he allowed 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings as the Phillies drubbed the Mets, 26-7.
Moyer had only received a bases-loaded walk twice before in his career: in 1988 against Montreal Expos right-hander Floyd Youmans, and last season while facing Oliver Perez.
The Mets, who won 10 of 11 after losing the season’s first four series, lost two straight to the Phillies. And, arguably, they have a more difficult task when they arrive in Cincinnati for a three-game series that opens Monday, since shaky Perez and John Maine face the Reds in the opening two games.
The night had started so positively, too. David Wright belted a three-run homer in the first inning off Moyer -- the third baseman’s 13th homer at Citizens Bank Park, more than at any other stadium as a visitor. Santana surrendered solo homers to Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard the following half-inning, but Rod Barajas restored a three-run cushion in the top of the fourth. Barajas, who had four homers as a Phillie in 122 at-bats in 2007, delivered a two-run homer Sunday. It was his third homer of the series and seventh in seven games in Philly since leaving the team.
Santana, though, unraveled in the bottom of the fourth. And the Mets had no hits, and only one baserunner, on an eighth-inning walk to Jason Bay, after Philadelphia's nine-run frame.
10:54 p.m.: It's no longer the first-place Mets. Philadelphia takes a half-game lead with its 11-5 drubbing.
10:40 p.m.: The Mets' top three relievers -- Fernando Nieve, Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Rodriguez -- all will be used with the team trailing by six runs. None had pitched since Wednesday.
10:25 p.m.: Seventh Inning Stretch. Still Phillies 11, Mets 5.
9:47 p.m: Well, the inning is over, with nine runs scoring. Here's an ESPN Stats & Information recap: Jamie Moyer had two other bases-loaded walks, in 1988 against the Montreal Expos' Floyd Youmans, who was traded by the Mets for Gary Carter, and last season against Oliver Perez. ... It marks the 13th time a Mets pitcher has allowed 10-plus runs in a game. The franchise record is 11, shared by Orlando Hernandez (2006), Jack Fisher (1967) and Craig Anderson (1962). ... The last time a Mets pitcher allowed 10-plus runs while getting fewer outs than Santana: June 11, 1985. Calvin Schiraldi allowed 10 in 1 1/3 innings as the Phillies drubbed the Mets, 26-7. (Later in that game, Joe Sambito allowed 10 runs in three innings.) ... Chase Utley has homered in Santana's last three games against him.
9:40 p.m.: Hisanori Takahashi hasn't put out the fire. It's now a nine-run fourth after Jayson Werth delivers an RBI double. Phillies still batting, up 11-5.
9:33 p.m.: Make that an eight-run fourth inning against Johan Santana. Chase Utley belts a two-run homer. Santana has allowed four homers in the game. It's Phillies 10, Mets 5. Santana is being pulled by Jerry Manuel with two out. The 10 runs allowed by Santana were a career high, topping the nine runs he allowed at Yankee Stadium last June 14. He allowed four homers for the third time in his career. The other time as a Met: last June 9, actually in a 6-5 win against the Phillies at Citi Field.
9:32 p.m.: The Mets are victims of a six-run fourth inning against one of their top pitchers for a second straight game. This time, Johan Santana unthinkably walks opposing pitcher Jamie Moyer with two out and the bases loaded to force in a run. Then, Santana serves up a grand slam to Shane Victorino. Santana has allowed three homers in the game.
9:12 p.m.: Rod Barajas loves playing against his former team. He now has seven homers in eight games against Philadelphia since playing there in 2007. Barajas has three homers in his two starts this series, and has retaken sole possession of the Mets' homer lead from David Wright with No. 6 this season. The Mets lead 5-2 in the top of the fourth.
9:01 p.m.: Johan Santana cruises through a pair of 1-2-3 innings. It's 3-2 Mets, heading to the fourth.
8:29 p.m.: Make that two homers off Johan Santana in the first inning. Ryan Howard also deposited an opposite-field shot into the left-field stands, on a 1-2 offering. Mets 3, Phillies 2.
8:26 p.m.: Johan Santana won't duplicate Phillies ace Roy Halladay's Saturday performance. Placido Polanco took Santana deep on an 0-2 offering in the bottom of the first. Mets 3, Phillies 1. The last three times Santana has allowed a homer on an 0-2 pitch, incidentally, it's come to Phillies -- Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley last season, and now Polanco.
8:18 p.m.: David Wright sure likes Citizens Bank Park. His three-run homer off Jamie Moyer in the first inning gave him 13 in his career in Philly, the most of any road ballpark he's visited. Atlanta's Turner Field is second at 11. Wright also matched Rod Barajas for the team lead in homers with No. 5. Wright's fifth homer last season didn't come until June 30. Wright now has four career homers off Moyer -- tied for the most of any pitcher, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also has four off of Horacio Ramirez, Brad Penny, Brett Myers and Livan Hernandez.
8:05 p.m.: Lineups:
Gary Matthews Jr, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Fernando Tatis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LHP
Shane Victorino, CF
Placido Polanco, 3B
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Jayson Werth, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF
Juan Castro, SS
Carlos Ruiz, C
Jamie Moyer, LHP
Game notes: Manager Jerry Manuel cited the numbers of Gary Matthews Jr. (.304, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 23 AB) and Fernando Tatis (.364, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 22 AB) against Jamie Moyer in part to explain their starts on Sunday night. Manuel added about rookie Ike Davis, who had started 12 straight games since his call-up: "It gives him a chance to exhale."