NEW YORK - A week ago, the New York Mets returned from a road trip in disarray. Key injuries left the lineup with holes, and manager Willie Randolph’s future looked bleak.
Then, Johan Santana beat Florida to stop the skid — just the way a staff ace should. And now, the suddenly surging Mets are headed back on the road after winning five of six.
Santana wrapped up New York’s turnaround homestand by pitching into the eighth inning for his 100th win, Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church hit two-run homers and the Mets defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 Sunday night.
“It’s all about having fun,” said Santana, who gave up a run in the first but frustrated the Dodgers the rest of the night. “You have to remember this is a game and you have to have fun.”
Back in the lineup after his second concussion this year, Church capped a five-run third with his shot to right. He finished with a double and three hits for the Mets (28-27), who took three of four from the Dodgers in manager Joe Torre’s return to New York to win consecutive series for the first time since mid-April.
“It’s great getting back out there with the guys,” said Church, who was given the go-ahead from doctors to play Sunday morning. “I couldn’t ask for anything better the first day back.”
New York has won five of six, the run beginning a night after Randolph’s much-publicized meeting with ownership last Monday.
The Mets have a good chance to keep their momentum going, too. Next up is a trip to San Francisco and San Diego, who are a combined 47-68. Pedro Martinez is slated to make his second start of the season Tuesday night against the Giants.
“We have a long way to go,” Randolph said.
While the Mets head back on the road brimming with confidence, the Dodgers head home after winning just once on a seven-game trip. Los Angeles dropped to 3-22 when scoring three runs or fewer, and has been held to fewer than two runs in six of its last 10 games.
“We have to turn the page,” Torre said. “We know we’re better than this. There is no question about it. We’ll keep reminding them because you certainly don’t feel good about yourself after a road trip like this.”
The Dodgers looked as though they might be coming out of their funk against Santana in the first, when Juan Pierre doubled leading off and scored on Matt Kemp’s single.
But the left-hander gave up just three singles and two walks over the next six innings. He was lifted for reliever Joe Smith with runners on first and second and two outs in the eighth, tipping his cap to a big ovation from the crowd of 50,263.
Smith plunked Jeff Kent to load the bases, but Scott Schoeneweis got James Loney to ground out and end the threat.
Santana (7-3) gave up six hits, walked three and struck out six to win for the sixth time in seven decisions. The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t lost at Shea Stadium since April 12.
“You give him that kind of a lead, he’s tough,” Torre said. “He knows how to pitch, period. But with a lead like that he’s not going to get himself in trouble.”
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda left after giving up six runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings, the shortest start of his major league career.
Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning single and scored on David Wright’s bloop single to right, but the sparkplug shortstop’s double leading off the third inning really got things going for the Mets.
Wright drove in Reyes with a single before Beltran hit a 1-0 pitch from Kuroda (2-5) over the right-center wall for his sixth homer of the year and second in two games.
After Kuroda walked Carlos Delgado, Church — who’d been out of the lineup since he was hurt May 20 trying to break up a double play at Atlanta — drove the third pitch he saw to right to make it 6-1.
“I expected to have my timing off a little bit, but I was able to see the ball real well and put a good swing on it,” Church said. “It was good to get the uniform back on and get out there with the guys like that.”
Notes: The series drew 208,853, a Mets record for a four-game series. ... Reyes has reached base safely in 32 straight games, one shy of Darryl Strawberry’s single-season club record. ... Schoeneweis has given up just one run in 18 1-3 innings, and hasn’t permitted a run in 22 of 25 appearances this season. ... Dodgers rookie Delwyn Young started in RF in place of Andre Ethier. ... Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal (back) hit some balls Sunday and will probably begin a rehab assignment next week, Torre said. ... Mets 2B Luis Castillo (hip flexor) also was back in the lineup. ... Kent made a diving catch of Castillo’s liner up the middle in the fourth.
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