NEW YORK -- Johan Santana, who entered Saturday tied for the most no-decisions in the majors with six after his first nine starts, evened his record at 2-2 as his New York Mets bested the visiting San Diego Padres 9-0 in front of 28,745 at Citi Field.
The former two-time Cy Young winner, still finding his way back from a left shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, was his old masterful self, throwing his first complete game of the season and first shutout since August of 2010.
"You see all the work he's put in (since his surgery), and I've always thought, if anybody can come back from this surgery, it's him," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
"Even though his stuff may not be the same as five years ago, and he's not throwing a 96 mile an hour fastball. But he knows how to pitch. He pitches his game, and pitches to his strengths. He's fun to watch. He just loves to be out there competing."
No San Diego baserunner made it past second base as Santana, who at one point retired 16 Padres in order, allowed only four harmless singles en route to the win. Throwing just 96 pitches, he struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
"I felt great. I feel great," Santana said about the game, and about his season so far. "When the doctors told me the surgery was successful, "I knew the rest would be up to me. And with every start now, my confidence is building up."
Said Padres manager Bud Black, "He's throwing the ball the way I remember him. Maybe his velocity is down, but he's locked in. We just couldn't put any good swings against him."
The Mets loaded up their lineup with righty bats against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard (2-6), as the San Diego hurler had held left-handed hitters to a .167 average through his first nine starts. Lucas Duda was the only left-handed batter in the Mets starting lineup.
The strategy worked, as home runs by Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino, along with Mike Nickeas' first career grand slam, powered the Mets to the runaway win.
New York got to Richard early. Andres Torres led off the bottom of the first with a single. After a one-out walk to David Wright and a balk by Richard that advanced the runners to second and third, Hairston blasted a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall for a three-run homer. Later in the inning, Rottino connected for his first major league round-tripper, a solo shot to left-center that made the score 4-0.
After that, Richard settled down. He kept the Mets off the scoresheet for the next five innings, and exited after six innings having allowed just the four runs on five hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.
"I put two pitches over the middle of the plate and they took advantage," Richard said.
The way Santana was pitching, though, it hardly mattered.
Struggling Ike Davis drove in a run with a pinch-hit double off Padres reliever Dale Thayer, who also surrendered catcher Nickeas' grand slam in the Mets five-run eighth.
"Johan was awesome," Santana's battery mate Nickeas said. "They were aggressive and that played into his strength. Johan's a huge presence for us, and it shows you how we can roll when a guy like that leads us."
NOTES: On the San Diego injury front, outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is recovering from right-knee surgery that has kept him on the disabled list all season, went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in a minor league rehab game. Closer Huston Street, out since early May with a strained right lat, continues to long toss, and is scheduled to begin throwing off a mound within the coming week. ... Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin left the game in the sixth inning with a sprained right wrist. ... As part of the Mets' ongoing celebration of their 50th season, Saturday was Rusty Staub Bobblehead Day. Staub, who played for New York from 1972-75 and again from 1981-85, and was the first Met to drive in 100 runs (105 in '75), was elected to the team's Hall of Fame in 1986.