Johan Santana was angry. He had just allowed four home runs in a game for only the second time in 221 major league starts, and Mets manager Jerry Manuel was out at the mound to give him the hook in the eighth inning after a season-low 91 pitches.
“I'm a man. I'm a man,” Manuel remembered his ace telling him. “What he means by that, I don't know.”
On a rare off-night, Santana was in a contrary mood. He defied a bunt sign to double in the tying run, and David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church backed him with home runs in a rare Citi Field slugfest, a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.
Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley homered for the Phillies, whose NL East lead was cut to two games over the Mets. Utley's drive leading off the eighth finished Santana's night and brought out Manuel.
“I just told him that, 'I feel good,”' Santana said. “I'm (not) trying to show anybody up or anything. I just felt that I had enough stuff to battle through it. But he thought different. He's my skipper and I respect everything that he does.”
With the Mets trailing 4-3 in the sixth following Rollins' two-run homer, Santana (8-3) had the key at-bat. Manuel left him in with runners at first and second and one out, and Santana fouled off two pitches from Clay Condrey (4-1). Then, with an 0-2 count, he faked bunt before doubling to right for his fifth career RBI.
Alex Cora's two-out RBI single put the Mets ahead 5-4 and Church homered off Chad Durbin in the seventh, his first RBI since April 27. The drive over the 16-foot wall landed in the well where the Home Run Apple sits in straightaway center field.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 16 chances.
New York, which lost the NL East to the Phillies on the final day of each of the last two seasons, has won four of five against Philadelphia this year. The Mets are hanging on despite injuries to first baseman Carlos Delgado and shortstop Jose Reyes.
Santana allowed a season-high five earned runs and eight hits in seven-plus innings. His ERA, which had led the NL at 2.00, rose to 2.39. Ibanez's homer was just the 10th off Santana on an 0-2 pitch, the first since the Yankees' Jason Giambi on May 17 last year, according to STATS LLC.
“Just because you're Johan Santana, it doesn't mean you're going to throw a shutout every night,” Santana said.
Wright's second-inning homer ended his homerless streak at 100 at-bats, one shy of his career high, set in 2006. His fourth home run of the season was his first since May 7 against Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer.