(AP) — Faced with another setback, the New York Mets are doing their best to focus on winning games. Sending ace Johan Santana to the mound should help.
Without their star closer, Santana and the Mets try for a seventh consecutive win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Hours after learning Francisco Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season with a torn thumb ligament, New York (59-59) scored twice in the ninth inning to beat Houston 3-1 on Monday. Hisanori Takahashi earned his first career save.
With outfielder Jason Bay (concussion) and catcher Rod Barajas (oblique) on the disabled list, the team announced Rodriguez will need surgery after suffering the injury during a fight with his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field last week.
“We’ve just been through a lot,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We seem to continue to have difficulties keeping things from – having these type of injuries or these type of setbacks.”
Santana (10-6, 2.89 ERA) is dealing with his own personal issues. A Florida woman who accused him of rape sued Santana in Lee County, Fla., after authorities declined to prosecute the case. However, he will try to win his third straight start Tuesday.
“Every time we go out there, we go out there with the mentality of winning,” Santana told the Mets’ official website.
The left-hander has allowed nine hits without a run over 16 1-3 innings of his last two starts. Santana, who tossed a four-hitter and struck out 10 in a 4-0 win over Colorado on Thursday, is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in nine starts.
“(It’s) fun to watch him pitch,” teammate Angel Pagan said.
Santana is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts against Houston.
David Wright had three hits and former Astro Carlos Beltran had two with a homer Monday for the Mets, who haven’t won two straight on the road since a seven-game streak June 11-18.
Though Beltran has two home runs in 29 games this season, he is 8 for 18 in his last five contests. He is batting .319 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 11 at Minute Maid Park, where he spent part of 2004 playing for the Astros.
The Mets face former teammate Nelson Figueroa (3-1, 3.38) on Tuesday when he makes his second start of the season and first since the Astros acquired him off waivers last month.
The right-hander, 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in eight appearances with Houston, was scheduled to start last Saturday but was pushed back after he underwent an arteriogram due to migraine headaches.
“Everything checked out OK,” Figueroa told the Astros’ official website. “They just felt it was better to be on the safe side.”
Figueroa went 4-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 16 starts for the Mets in 2008-2009, but they designated him for assignment out of spring training in April.
Chris Johnson had two hits with an RBI on Monday for the Astros (51-66), who have scored nine total runs during their six-game skid against the Mets. The rookie third baseman is hitting .384 with 33 RBIs in 44 games since being recalled from the minors June 22.
Second baseman Jeff Keppinger – a former Met – is likely out of the lineup after spraining his left big toe Monday.
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