NEW YORK (AP) — No matter who goes first, Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey in succession has turned into a nasty combination for the New York Mets.
Santana pitched six sharp innings, and Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer to help the Mets beat Baltimore 5-0 on Tuesday night for their second straight shutout of the Orioles.
Santana followed Dickey’s second one-hitter in a row with his best outing since he tossed a no-hitter on June 1. Jordany Valdespin added a two-run single for New York, which won by the same score Monday night in the series opener — a rematch of the 1969 World Series won by the Miracle Mets.
“It’s amazing. Dickey and now Johan tonight. That’s a good hitting ballclub over there, too,” Duda said. “That’s what they do. I just think they have to continue to be themselves and we’ll be fine.”
It was the second time this month that Santana and Dickey have thrown back-to-back shutouts. Dickey followed Santana’s no-hitter against St. Louis by blanking the Cardinals. The two then flip-flopped in the rotation to give Santana extra rest after he threw a career-high 134 pitchers in the franchise’s first no-hitter.
Santana (5-3) had a pair of shaky outings after that, but he was back in fine form against the suddenly punchless Orioles.
“I think it was really big for Johan. He had much better stuff today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “That no-hitter took it out of him. That and all that comes with it.”
Making his first start at home since the no-hit gem, the left-hander allowed four hits and struck out five. He pitched around a leadoff double in the second inning and struck out consecutive batters with runners on second and third to wriggle out of the fourth.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner improved to 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA in eight starts at Citi Field this season. Fans in attendance received a T-shirt featuring a picture of Santana with his arm raised moments after his no-hitter.
Bobby Parnell, Miguel Batista and Jon Rauch each worked an inning to finish the five-hitter and extend Baltimore’s scoreless streak to 21 innings, dating to Sunday’s 2-0 victory in Atlanta.
“We’ve run into two guys on the top of their game, and I’ll give them the credit,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Pitchers on the top of their game will make you look like you’re not on top of yours.”
The Mets have thrown consecutive shutouts three times this season and lead the National League with eight.
“The no-hitter is over, man,” Santana said. “I knew I was coming into this game on regular rest and I felt good. … I was just trying to stay with my mechanics. I think that one of the things that I do — I want to make sure that I establish my fastball inside, and that’s what I was trying to do tonight. When I do that, my changeup is better.”
The Orioles, who had won seven of eight before arriving at Citi Field, were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since April 2005 against Boston. They haven’t homered in five games, their longest drought since 2010.
“It’s just a couple rough days of good pitching,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “It’s been a rough 18 innings here. Can’t dwell on it. … It’s two games. I don’t think anyone in here is going to call it a slump.”
Collins stacked his lineup with eight left-handed hitters against Tommy Hunter (3-4), and it paid off.
Daniel Murphy drove in the first run with a groundout when first baseman Mark Reynolds made a diving stop of his bases-loaded smash in the fourth. Valdespin singled to start the sixth, and Duda hit a high fly that nestled onto the netting that protects fans sitting just behind the 375-foot sign in right.
It was the second big homer in two nights for the Mets that wouldn’t have cleared the Citi Field fences before they were moved in this season.
Valdespin added a two-run single off left-hander Dana Eveland with two outs in the seventh. The rookie started in left field after playing second base Monday night, when he had a triple and double.
“See the ball, hit the ball,” Valdespin said.
Valdespin is 8 for 24 (.333) with eight RBIs and seven runs in his last eight games. Before the game, Collins said the youngster has added an energetic spark.
“Jordany Valdespin is a very talented young man,” Collins said. “He’s growing on the job. He’s learning on the job. He’s maturing up here. I thought he’s handled himself very well up here so far. He’s listening.”
NOTES: Baltimore blanked the Braves twice in a row before coming to New York. … Collins said he would like to rest SS Omar Quintanilla on Wednesday night, though the manager is a little concerned about playing Justin Turner at shortstop because he just returned from a sprained ankle. Quintanilla singled leading off the seventh to snap an 0-for-16 slide. … Duda leads the Mets with 11 homers and has reached base safely in a career-best 22 consecutive games. … The Mets honored the Stony Brook baseball team, which became the first squad from New York to reach the College World Series since St. John’s in 1980.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)