Bay, Johan star in fifth straight victory

Bay, Johan star in fifth straight victory

NEW YORK -- The Mets' surprising ascent in the National League East standings has been fueled by an equally surprising performance by their starting pitchers. In last place as recently as Friday afternoon, the Mets temporarily moved into a tie for second place in the NL East on Tuesday when they defeated the Dodgers in the first game of their makeup doubleheader. And it was another shutout, the team's fourth in 20 games this season, that put them there.

With Jason Bay hitting his first home run with the team and Johan Santana gaining his third victory, the Mets won, 4-0, extending their winning streak to five games and pushing their record to two victories over .500 for the first time this season. The win was New York's seventh in eight games on the current homestand. Oliver Perez started the second game for the Mets. The Dodgers' starter was knuckleball pitcher Charlie Haeger.

Santana (3-1) pitched six innings in the windy chill of Citi Field, beating the Dodgers for the third time in three career starts. He surrendered four hits, three singles and a triple, by Reed Johnson, and walked three batters, all in the second inning. Santana struck out six and threw 115 pitches, his high in five starts this season.

"No fun at all," Santana said, referring to the conditions -- temperatures in the 50s and winds that gusted to more than 30 miles per hour. "It was a weird day."

The doubleheader began at 4:10 p.m. ET with relatively few fans in attendance.

"But I didn't let what was going on take over," said Santana. "I tried not to think about it."

Those who followed Santana were more effective. Fernando Nieve allowed two basesrunners in two innings, and Pedro Feliciano allowed one in the ninth. The game ended with the Mets having pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings and two successive shutouts, though the first was five innings, Sunday night. The streak ended at 20 innings in the fourth inning of the nightcap, when Perez and Hisonari Takahashi allowed four walks and three runs to tie the score.

The Mets hadn't pitched four shutouts, regardless of length, in their first 20 games since 1998, when Bobby Jones, Masato Yoshii and Al Leiter (twice) were the starters. Mike Pelfrey has started the other three this year.

Bay, who hit 36 home runs last season, had gone 69 at-bats without a home run this season and 108 since his most recent home run, Sept. 21, last year. The streak of 108 was the longest of his career by 30 at-bats.

"I'm glad he broke through at home," manager Jerry Manuel said.

He said Bay was kidding when he said, "I was running hard for a triple."

Bay hit his shot vs. the Dodgers over the left-center-field wall to lead off the fourth inning. His sixth hit in 11 at-bats gave Santana a 2-0 lead. David Wright had scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch by losing pitcher Hiroki Kuroda in the second.

The Mets scored twice in the seventh against the relievers who followed Kuroda (2-1) on a single by Luis Castillo against Ramon Troncosco.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.