Peña Bests Santana in Mets Loss
New York - Carlos Peña the American League home leader of the Tampa Bay Rays has had a good history hitting against Mets pitcher Johan Santana. Tampa Bay right hander pitcher James Shields never faced the Mets in his 100 career starts. The two were primary reasons why Tampa won 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Citi Field taking the second of two in the three game series.Santana (8-5) took the loss, third in his last four starts after coming off the worst outing of his career at the hands of the New York Yankees last Sunday. But he pitched well and did not allow a hit until a Jason Bartlett one-out double in the fifth inning. Overall, Santana gave up three hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings.A home run blast to right center from Carlos Peña, his Al leading 22nd broke a tie in the seventh and then the rains came. Santana was lifted after the 73 minute delay and Shields, also lifted after the delay, was just as good giving up three hits in seven innings, retiring his last 14 batters.“We wanted to win one for him,” said Peña about Shields. Peña also increased his RBI total to 51 with the solo home run. “This team bears down,” he said. “We know who we’re up against,” commenting about Santana who was 3-2 in seven previous starts against the Rays.Any questions as to the health of Santana after that poor outing against the Yankees were quickly answered. He resembled the old Santana with good velocity on his fastball and pitching ahead of the Tampa Bay hitters. “A lot of people were panicking and a lot of people were making comments about the stuff that I do,” said Santana.“I was a little more aggressive. I have confidence in the things that I do and I was able to make some adjustments, put it back together and work on it. I feel much better today.” And the Rays, who lead baseball in runs scored, knew they were facing the best.“I think, out guys in general, after last year like bigger games, like bigger crowds and like facing a pitcher like Johan,: said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “It was a battle today and whenever you are facing Johan Santana,” commented Shields (6-5) who allowed a second inning double to Omir Santos that scored Ryan Church, who also doubled, to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.The concern though may be Santana and his tendency of giving up the home run ball. The one to Peña, off a 92 mph fastball was his team leading 12th. “Johan was back to normal,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel who went to his pen later. Ben Zobrist hit his 15th home run off Sean Green in the ninth which became a huge run for the Rays.“I felt very confident that he would have a good outing,” said Manuel about Santana. In the end though, the Mets could not get on base and put any type of threat together against Shields, Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell.And Peña, who now has played in two new shining ballparks in New York, will take the win. He found it harder to hit one across town at Yankee Stadium when the Rays were in town two weeks ago. “It’s a big ballpark, it’s huge,’ he said about Citi Field.But nothing was bigger than that huge Babe Ruth type home run against Santana. “Those close games are good to win,” said Peña. The finale of the three game series is Sunday at 1:10pm with Jeff Niemann (6-4) opposing (5-2) Mike Pelfrey of the Mets.