Mets improve to 4-0 vs. Nationals this season

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Johan Santana added a dangerous bat to his dominant repertoire, and Mets manager Willie Randolph had some fun critiquing his prized pitcher.

Santana doubled twice and pitched seven solid innings to lead the Mets to a 7-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

"He should have had the cycle," Randolph said. "He would have really earned his money then."

Santana didn't do that, but he did have two of the Mets' three extra-base hits on a night when most of their runs came on infield hits and groundouts.

He also got better on the mound as the game went on. Santana allowed seven hits, none after the fourth inning.

"It's just one of those days where everything works out for you," said Santana, who had the second two-hit game of his career.

Santana couldn't lay claim to the game's best offensive performance by a pitcher, though. Washington starter Tim Redding drove in both of the Nationals' runs with a two-out double in the fourth inning to give Washington a 2-1 lead. It was the Nationals' last hit of the game.

New York broke open a 2-all tie in the sixth with only one hit -- Carlos Beltran's leadoff single -- leaving the infield. After Beltran's hit, Ray King relieved Redding (3-2) and Ryan Church hit a weak grounder to third. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman charged, but his running throw to first was wide. Beltran scored and Church, credited with a single, wound up on third on Zimmerman's throwing error.

"Craziest spin I have ever seen on a ball," Zimmerman said. "But that doesn't excuse me from throwing it away after I caught it."

Church scored two batters later on an infield single by Angel Pagan. Pagan then stole second and third on consecutive pitches and scored on a groundout by Brian Schneider to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.

"We didn't knock the walls down tonight, but still, that's the kind of game we have to win every once in a while," Randolph said.

In the fifth inning, the Mets tied the game after Redding's hit with another small-ball routine and a pair of close plays at first.

Redding walked the No. 8 hitter, Schneider, and Santana with one out. Jose Reyes then grounded to short but beat the relay to first, avoiding a double play. After Reyes stole second with two outs, Luis Castillo grounded to short and beat Cristian Guzman's throw to first. Castillo's infield single scored Schneider and evened the score 2-all.

"Absolutely forgot how to throw strikes for two batters," Redding said. "Especially with the eight hole and pitcher's spot up, you should be able to just close your eyes and throw strikes."

Beltran scored the game's first run in the second inning with a lead off double and then advanced on two groundouts.

Once the Mets tied the game, Santana cruised on the mound. He retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced.

"We kept saying, 'That's it. They're not going to get any more,'" said Church, who was 2-for-5 with two RBIs against his former team. "He beared down, and he shut them down."

Santana left the game after the seventh inning, and the bullpen shut them down from there. Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect eighth, and Billy Wagner only allowed a walk in the ninth.

In Santana's five starts this year, he's given up three runs or fewer four times.

"That gives you a very good chance to win every ballgame he goes out and pitches," Schneider said.

Game notes
Washington closer Chad Cordero was examined by Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday. An MRI revealed tendinitis and weakness in Cordero's right shoulder, but he will not need to go on the disabled list. ... It was the first game in Washington for Schneider and Church since being traded from the Nationals to the Mets for Lastings Milledge in the offseason. Schneider was 1-for-3 with an RBI. ... Washington designated Wednesday Jackie Robinson Day. Nationals Ray King, Willie Harris and Lastings Milledge all wore Robinson's No. 42 for the game. It was the second Jackie Robinson Day for the Nationals; the entire team wore No. 42 in New York against the Mets April 15.