No way, Jose -- this was Johan's day

NEW YORK -- Remove Jose Reyes' return to Queens with the visiting Miami Marlins from the equation.

The New York Mets entered Tuesday night's series opener at Citi Field having lost five of their past six games to slide to .500 following a 4-0 start.

They had received word in the morning that left fielder Jason Bay had suffered a fractured rib and would land on the disabled list.

And they also had placed right-hander Mike Pelfrey on the DL. The official word is right elbow inflammation for Pelfrey, but an industry source told ESPNNewYork.com that team officials already believe he has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that likely will require season-ending surgery.

So with all of that swirling at blustery Citi Field, on top of getting swept Monday in a doubleheader by the San Francisco Giants, the Mets desperately needed someone to halt the free fall.

They got that performance from left-hander Johan Santana, who had missed all of last season recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, and who was coming off the shortest start of his major league career -- 1 1/3 innings at Atlanta last Tuesday.

And of course they had to sweat out the 2-1 win.

Santana took a scoreless duel with Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson into the seventh inning, when the left-hander allowed an RBI double to the Marlins' Gaby Sanchez on the 105th and final pitch of his start. But the Mets were gifted a run in the bottom half of the seventh when four different Marlins pitchers issued four straight walks to force in a run. (The Mets are now 0-for-15 with the bases loaded this season.)

An inning later, the ball again bounced the Mets' way as Lucas Duda lined a shot off the hand of Marlins reliever Edward Mujica and into no-man's land in the infield for a go-ahead RBI single.

Santana got a no-decision and remains 0-2. Yet it was indisputable he had stolen the show from Reyes in the shortstop's 0-for-4 return. Reyes had departed New York to sign a six-year, $106 million deal in December with the Marlins.

"We talked about this in spring training sometimes: That's what, for me, your big pitchers do," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They stop stuff. They stop streaks. They stop losing streaks. They got out there and they give you what you've got to get to have a chance to win the game. And that's exactly what he did tonight. That's why -- I've said it all along -- what this guy brings to this team isn't just wins and losses sometimes. It's what he can do when you really need somebody to step up. He can do that."

Santana had recorded only four outs against the Braves the previous Tuesday at Turner Field, and indicated on multiple occasions since then that he badly wanted to get back on the mound even the next day.

His official line: 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.

"I felt really good," Santana said about his effort against the Marlins. "Everything was working. It's good to see. I was waiting for this start -- badly."