NEW YORK -- Only a few innings in, the question for Johan Santana became not how many hits he would give up, but how many home runs.
The buzz from Santana throwing the first no-hitter in New York Mets history last Friday ended with a thud Friday night in the Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium.
The New York Yankees slammed him back to reality in a 9-1 win as Robinson Cano homered twice, and combined with Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones for three straight homers in the third inning.
To further humble Santana and his teammates, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda looked like he might just pull off his own no-hitter against Santana in the Mets ace's first start since his no-no.
While Kuroda lost his bid in the sixth inning on a double by Omar Quintanilla, the Yankees finished with a two-hitter. Cody Eppley pitched a hitless inning before Lucas Duda doubled in a run off Ryota Igarashi in the ninth to follow Kuroda's seven shutout innings.
"Tonight was just kind of one of those magical nights," Swisher said. "Robbie, me and 'Druw -- it doesn't happen very often."
Oddly enough, that exact combo hit three in a row last Aug. 28 against the Baltimore Orioles, the last time the Yankees hit three straight homers in a game.
The night wasn't fully magical for Kuroda, who left after the seventh with what the Yankees said was a bruised left foot. X-rays were negative, they said, but Kuroda was on crutches and manager Joe Girardi admitted he was "concerned" about Kuroda making his next start.
After the game, Mets manager Terry Collins took the blame for giving Santana too much rest -- a week after Collins had questioned himself for leaving the pitcher in for 134 pitches to throw his no-hitter.
"For all the people that thought I made the right decision a week ago, because of that decision, I thought he needed the extra rest and I'm responsible for the results," Collins said, adding the pitcher was "rusty" and uncharacteristically left balls up in the zone. He said he told Santana the poor start was "my fault."
Santana, who said he was healthy, acknowledged he thought he could have started on regular rest and felt his changeup was off, but said he understood and accepted the cautious approach.
"We're in this together," he said.
The Yankees bashed Santana (3-3) for six runs on seven hits in five innings and left him stunned by the barrage in the third inning.
He tied a career-worst by allowing the four home runs, departing after the fifth having thrown 86 pitches, with no reason to worry about him needing to exceed any pitch limits.
"It was just one of those days," Santana said. "I know there were a lot of expectations and waiting for tonight."
Cano finished with four RBI, while Swisher and Jones later added RBI hits as the Yankees tacked on three runs against reliever Elvin Ramirez.
This time, it was Kuroda who argued to stay in the game before he eventually agreed to exit. By that point, though, Kuroda's no-hitter had been broken up by Quintanilla's double over the head of center fielder Curtis Granderson with two outs in the sixth.
Kuroda (5-6) would allow just the one hit while striking out seven and walking one. He left after the seventh, when he was struck by a line drive from Daniel Murphy that ricocheted to third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the final out of the inning.
"The reason why I didn't go out for the eighth is because I wanted to start the next game," said Kuroda, who said his sinker was really effective. "I think I could've pitched more innings, but I wanted to get myself ready for my next start."
Said Girardi: "He had great command of his slider and curve ball. His fastball was really effective. This guy knows how to pitch and that's what he did tonight."
Cano hit his second straight two-run homer in the third. Swisher followed with a shot to left and Santana, coming off two straight complete game shutouts, looked on in disbelief. He was even more frustrated when Jones completed the stunning trifecta with another drive to left for a 6-0 lead.
Cano hit his first home run in the bottom of the second to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. The two-run shot to right snapped Santana's scoreless streak at 19 innings and ended his hitless string at 10.
"I've got to be lucky to be successful against a guy like him," Cano said. "He threw a no-hitter in his last start and lefty against lefty -- he's got to throw his changeup too."
NOTES: Yankees right-hander David Robertson (strained left oblique) was scheduled to make a rehab appearance this weekend and manager Joe Girardi said he could return by next weekend. ... Left fielder Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) was scheduled for a rehab appearance with Class A Charleston on Friday, and could return early next week, Girardi said. ... Mets left fielder Jason Bay returned to the lineup for the first time since getting activated from the disabled list Wednesday. He batted eighth as manager Terry Collins wanted to let him get comfortable in his return before putting pressure on him to bat in the middle of the lineup following Bay's recent illness, he said. ... Right-hander Chris Young was activated from paternity leave. The Mets demoted Pedro Beato (2-1, 4.30 ERA) to Class AAA Buffalo to make room. ... Quintanilla said he has a small fracture on his left index finger, which affects his hitting more than his fielding, but he remained in the lineup. ... The Mets signed first-round draft pick Gavin Cecchini to a reported $2.3 million deal.