Jose Reyes went hitless in his return to Citi Field and Lucas Duda lined a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning that caromed off reliever Edward Mujica, sending the New York Mets to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night.
Johan Santana and Josh Johnson zipped through the first six innings in a crisp pitchers' duel between healthy-looking aces. Santana, coming off the shortest start of his career, struck out 11 for the Mets while Johnson whiffed nine.
Both working on six days' rest, each pitcher was charged with one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings. Santana and Johnson, both injured last season, threw 67 strikes apiece.
A fan favorite during nine seasons with the Mets, Reyes was back to play in New York for the first time since signing a $106 million, six-year contract with the division-rival Marlins in December. He said it was an exciting and emotional day, but he wasn't sure what to expect.
What he received was a mix of cheers — and louder boos — most of the night from the crowd of 20,192, the smallest this season at Citi Field. The star shortstop finished 0 for 4 and was robbed of extra bases on a leaping catch by rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis leading off the game.
Jon Rauch (3-0) worked a perfect inning and closer Frank Francisco, pulled in a save situation Saturday, tossed a hitless ninth for his fourth save. The Mets, swept in a doubleheader by San Francisco on Monday, won for the second time in seven games.
The victory gave the Mets a boost on a day when they put starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (elbow) and left fielder Jason Bay (broken rib) on the 15-day disabled list.
Miami has dropped three straight and is 2-7 on the road.
After striking out his first three times up, Nieuwenhuis singled to start the eighth against Mujica (0-2) and went to third on Daniel Murphy's one-out single. David Wright was called out on strikes but Duda hit a line drive that hit Mujica on his middle finger and rolled behind the mound for an infield single.
Mujica stayed down on the ground in pain for a bit and then left the game.
Santana gave up a one-out single to Emilio Bonifacio in the first but did not yield another hit until Giancarlo Stanton's two-out single in the seventh. Mets nemesis Gaby Sanchez followed with an RBI double off the left-field wall and Stanton scored from first on the Mets' sloppy relay.
That was it for Santana after 105 pitches, but New York tied it in the bottom half on four consecutive two-out walks — by four different pitchers.
Santana had his most strikeouts since he also fanned 11 against the Braves on Aug. 2, 2010. He lasted only 1 1-3 innings last Tuesday in a 9-3 loss at Atlanta.
NOTES: Marlins 2B Omar Infante was back in the lineup after missing four games with a groin problem. ... New York recalled IF Zach Lutz from Triple-A Buffalo and LHP Robert Carson from Double-A Binghamton. Lutz made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and struck out looking with the bases loaded to end the inning. ... Chris Schwinden is likely to get called up from Buffalo to take Pelfrey's next turn in the rotation, Friday at Colorado.