San Diego (47-65) beat New York 3-1 on Saturday and is in position to sweep its first four-game set since doing so against the Mets from June 5-8, 2008, at Petco Park.
The Padres, last in the NL West, are 5-1 against the Mets this season and have won eight in a row over them at home dating to 2007.
Despite allowing two runs in six innings, Santana (12-8, 3.10 ERA) took the loss as New York fell 2-1 at San Diego on June 6, 2008. The Padres hope to again get the best of the left-hander, who has a chance to join St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright(notes) as the only 13-game winners in the NL.
Santana, who is 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts against the Padres, allowed five runs while striking out six in a season-high eight innings, but closer Francisco Rodriguez(notes) blew a two-run lead in the ninth of the Mets’ 12-7, 10-inning loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.
Santana, who’s 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his last five starts and has not allowed a run in any of those victories, hopes to help New York (51-59) salvage a game in a series in which it is batting .206 while being outscored 17-6.
One night after Rodriguez blew his fifth save in the last 13 chances of a 6-2 loss, Alex Cora(notes) homered and had two of New York’s five hits as it lost for the eighth time in 10 games and dropped eight games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2004 season at 71-91.
“We’re trying to pick each other up and trying to step it up,” Santana said. “I don’t really know what else we have to go through, to be honest.”
“Overall, you’re seeing guys swinging the bats much better as a group,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official Web site.
Eckstein is batting .321 in his last seven games against the Mets, but is 0 for 6 lifetime versus Santana.
The right-hander, who was coming off his first win since 2006 prior to his last outing, makes his first appearance against New York.