Series: Game 1 of 3

Minnesota leads 1-0 (as of 6/18)

Game 1: Tuesday, June 18
Minnesota 6Final
New York 1
Game 2: Wednesday, June 19
Minnesota 2Final
New York 4
Game 3: Thursday, June 20
Minnesota 2Final
New York 3

Twins 6

(40-30, 16-17 away)

Mets 1

(34-35, 16-15 home)

    7:10 PM ET, June 18, 2002

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 020101002 6 - -
    NYM 000001000 1 - -

    W: J. Santana (2-1)

    L: J. D'Amico (4-6)

    Mets' offense returns to lowly self vs. Twins

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana dominated the New York Mets right from the start.

    Santana struck out his first three batters and pitched three-hit ball for six innings, leading the Minnesota Twins over the New York Mets 6-1 on Tuesday night.

    "I think most of those guys are All-Stars,'' Santana said. "But I don't have that on my mind. I just went out there to pitch. You always see these guys on TV, and now you're able to face them.''

    Torii Hunter, Dustan Mohr and A.J. Pierzynski homered for the AL Central-leading Twins, who won their third straight.

    "Our guys are definitely getting better. We have a long way to go, but this year we know what it takes to stay in first place,'' Hunter said. "This is not a surprise. We were in first place for half the season last year, and people think we're a fluke. But we can play.''

    After taking two of three from the Yankees in an intense Subway Series last weekend, the Mets went right back to their slumping ways on offense.

    Santana (2-1) was making just his third start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Edmonton on May 31. He allowed one run and struck out seven in the longest outing of his career. The 23-year-old left-hander shut down the Mets, who often seem to struggle against young pitchers they've never faced before.

    "What's not to like about him? He's got a great arm. You couldn't ask for a better kid,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

    LaTroy Hawkins worked two perfect innings, and Travis Miller finished the four-hitter.

    Mohr, Pierzynski and Luis Rivas hit consecutive doubles off Jeff D'Amico (4-6) with two outs in the second inning for a 2-0 lead.

    Mohr led off the fourth with his fifth home run and second in two games. Hunter opened the sixth with a 409-foot shot to left-center, his 16th this year.

    "I couldn't really explain it,'' D'Amico said. "I tip my hat to those guys. Maybe they had a better report on me than I had on them. I thought I made some quality pitches. I just walked off the mound after six scratching my head and look up and there's four runs on the board.''

    Pierzynski, playing in front of family and friends from Bridgehampton, N.Y., connected off Satoru Komiyama in the ninth inning.

    Rivas doubled twice, Cristian Guzman had three of Minnesota's 12 hits and Jacque Jones added an RBI single in the ninth to make it 6-1. The Twins, who escaped elimination in the offseason, had an easy time with the big-budget Mets.

    "It was just one game,'' Hunter said. "Guys like that can have one off game, then turn around the next day and pull out the whooping sticks on you.''

    Acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason, D'Amico has fallen apart after a promising start. He dropped his fourth consecutive start, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings. Since beating Florida 3-0 on May 26, the 6-foot-7 right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA in his last four outings.

    "They hadn't seen Jeff either and they had some pretty good swings tonight,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's just got to get over the mental hump and get back in the saddle.''

    The Mets didn't help themselves on the bases, either. Slumping slugger Jeromy Burnitz singled with two outs in the fifth for New York's first hit, but he was thrown out by Hunter trying to stretch it into a double.

    Hunter, a Gold Glove center fielder, also made a fine catch at the fence on a drive by Mo Vaughn in the fifth.

    "I thought it was gone, but then I looked back and saw I had a little room to make the play,'' Hunter said.

    Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth, but he was nailed attempting to advance to second on a pitch that bounced in the dirt on a strong throw by Pierzynski.

    "It wasn't one of our best games, no doubt about that,'' Valentine said.

    Game notes

    It was the first meeting ever between these teams. The Mets dropped to 5-5 in interleague play this season. The Twins are 6-4. ... Minnesota had five doubles to increase their major league-leading total to 161. The Twins have 56 doubles in their last 19 games. ... Gardenhire was a utility infielder for the Mets from 1981-85. ... The Mets played a video tribute to Twins RHP Rick Reed before the game. Reed, traded to Minnesota last July for OF Matt Lawton, was scheduled to start Wednesday but was scratched after cutting his right thumb on a suitcase. ... Major league disciplinarian Bob Watson said Mets LHP Shawn Estes will probably be fined for throwing a pitch behind Yankees ace Roger Clemens on Saturday. ... Calgary Flames RW Jarome Iginla, the NHL's leading scorer this past season, was in attendance.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press