Twins 5, Mets 3

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Despite losing his last four starts, Johan Santana wanted the ball more than ever Wednesday night.

With the game on the line, he wasn’t about to give it up.

Santana pitched seven strong innings and struck out his last two batters with the bases loaded, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 5-3 victory over the New York Mets.

The left-hander gave up three singles in the seventh, but manager Ron Gardenhire stayed with him.

“I was saying to myself, ‘Gardy, don’t take me out, don’t take me out,”’ Santana recalled. “I got in trouble, let me get out of it.”

That’s exactly what he did, striking out Gerald Williams and Mike Cameron.

“I don’t know if too many guys on our team have better stuff than him,” Gardenhire said. “I just said, ‘I’m sticking with him.”’

Santana (3-4) finished with a season-high 10 strikeouts and no walks. He allowed one run on six hits, and Joe Nathan got four outs for his 16th save in 17 opportunities.

“I think this will be the beginning of something good,” Santana said.

Jacque Jones hit a three-run homer and Matthew LeCroy followed with a solo shot for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Williams hit his first major league homer in more than three years and Mike Piazza drove in two runs for the Mets, who have dropped four of five.

“We had a shot with the bases loaded and came up empty, and that was it,” manager Art Howe said.

Steve Trachsel (5-5) gave up five runs and eight hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one.

Trachsel retired his first seven batters before Joe Mauer blooped a double down the left-field line. Luis Rivas followed with an RBI single to left, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

The Twins then pulled away with a four-run fourth.

Corey Koskie singled with one out and Torii Hunter walked before Jones hit his 11th home run, a 397-foot shot to left-center. LeCroy followed with his fifth homer, a high fly ball off Trachsel that just cleared the wall in left to give Minnesota a 5-0 lead.

“I think that inning really took some pressure off Johan,” LeCroy said.

New York got a run in the sixth when Williams lined Santana’s first pitch over the left-field wall for his first homer since June 3, 2001, with Tampa Bay. Williams joined the Mets in Minnesota on Wednesday after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Norfolk.

Todd Zeile singled off Joe Roa with two outs in the eighth and J.C. Romero hit Cliff Floyd with a pitch before Piazza’s two-run double made it 5-3. Nathan struck out pinch-hitter Karim Garcia, ending the inning.

“We just got to keep working and keep going up and trying to get it done inthose situations,” Cameron said. “We didn’t get it done tonight.”


After the game, New York placed RHP Orber Moreno on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain and recalled RHP Tyler Yates from Triple-A Norfolk. … Trachsel is 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in his last three starts. … Santana retired 17 of his first 21 batters before giving up three hits in the seventh. … LeCroy has hit safely in 15 of 19 games, batting .339 with two doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs. … Santana improved to 7-1 with a 2.34 ERAin 19 games against NL teams.

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