Tatis, Castro help Santana, Mets drop Marlins

NEW YORK (AP) -- Desperate for a psychological boost, the New York Mets had the right man on the mound.

Johan Santana snapped the Mets out of their recent doldrums, pitching seven effective innings to beat the feisty Florida Marlins 5-3 on Tuesday night.

"He's the guy that we look for to stop the bleeding, and that's what he did tonight," manager Willie Randolph said. "That's what he gets paid to do."

Fernando Tatis and Ramon Castro each hit a pair of two-out RBI singles for the Mets, who won for only the second time in nine games. One day after the embattled Randolph kept his job -- for now -- following a much-publicized meeting with ownership, New York improved to 24-26 with its fifth victory in 15 tries.

"They gave me a vote of confidence? Is that what you call it?" Randolph said with a belly laugh. "We needed a win real bad."

Helped by some fine defense, Santana (6-3) worked around eight hits and two walks. He allowed three runs and struck out seven.

"Every outing is a new experience for me," said Santana, acquired from Minnesota in February and signed to a $137.5 million, six-year contract. "Hopefully, we'll get some momentum going."

The left-hander earned his 99th major-league win, retiring surging slugger Dan Uggla in three key situations.

"He's real good. That's why he wins Cy Youngs -- he gets out of jams," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Duaner Sanchez pitched a scoreless eighth after yielding a leadoff double. Billy Wagner fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances.

With his 368th save, Wagner passed Jeff Reardon for sole possession of sixth place on the career list.

"We've got a championship-caliber team," Wagner said. "Winning cures all illness and problems."

Florida starter Andrew Miller (4-4) lasted only 4 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs and six hits after tossing seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts to beat Arizona in his previous outing.

Cody Ross homered and drove in two runs for the NL East-leading Marlins (30-21).

Randolph stacked his lineup with all right-handed hitters besides Santana, and New York got on the board in the first inning against Miller, a 6-foot-6 lefty.

Jose Reyes led off with a double and moved to third on Luis Castillo's sacrifice bunt. Miller double-clutched on a throw to third that Jorge Cantu couldn't handle, leaving runners at the corners with none out.

David Wright walked to load the bases before Carlos Beltran popped out and Damion Easley hit a sacrifice fly. Tatis, playing right field in place of injured Ryan Church, added an RBI single and Castro made it 3-0 with a single to right.

"I kind of live by the fastball and I didn't do a good job," Miller said. "In the first inning, I felt confident I'd get out of it. The first inning is killing me this year."

Ross drove in a second-inning run with a bases-loaded groundout. Wright doubled in the fifth and scored on Tatis' single, making it 4-1.

Ross hit a solo shot in the sixth, the 12th home run Santana has given up in 11 starts this season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw consecutive wild pitches in the seventh, and Jeremy Hermida scored when Reyes bobbled Cantu's RBI grounder to shortstop for his third error in three games.

Castro's RBI single off Joe Nelson in the bottom half pushed the margin to 5-3.

"The bench guys did an outstanding job," Randolph said. "We need to pick each other up like that."

Game notes
Santana doubled in the fourth. Four of his five hits this year are doubles, the most doubles by a Mets pitcher in one season since Rick Reed hit five in 1997. ... Randolph rested slumping first baseman Carlos Delgado, hoping to help clear his head, and said he might do so again Wednesday night against left-hander Scott Olsen. ... Reyes extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He has reached base safely in 27 straight games. ... Beltran has reached safely in 30 consecutive starts. ... Church missed his seventh straight start with a concussion. After being examined by a neurologist and undergoing an MRI exam earlier in the day, he was sent home to rest and told to avoid bright lights. ... New York right-hander Pedro Martinez (hamstring) is likely to rejoin the rotation early next week in San Francisco. He's slated to make a rehab start Wednesday night for Class A St. Lucie. ... Florida left fielder Luis Gonzalez hit his 579th career double, passing Wade Boggs for 17th place.