WHAT IT MEANS: Johan Santana finally received run support. Still he deserved better.
After tossing six scoreless innings and departing with a four-run lead, Santana gave way to the bullpen with his pitch count at 90.
New York Mets
With two out in the eighth, Todd Helton then blasted a game-tying pinch-hit grand slam off Tim Byrdak that deprived Santana of his first win since before Sept. 14, 2010, surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
Byrdak had inherited three baserunners from Jon Rauch.
After walking former Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer to load the bases, Rauch had left the mound displeased with plate umpire Paul Emmel’s strike zone. Rauch’s streak of 10 scoreless innings to open his Mets career was snapped.
The Mets appeared poised to salvage the rubber game on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' RBI double against Matt Belisle in the top of the 10th that scored Mike Baxter. Baxter had reached base with a single that lifted him to 5-for-11 with two walks as a pinch hitter this season. But Frank Francisco served up a solo homer to Carlos Gonzalez in the bottom half for the closer's first blown save in six chances as a Met. Francisco has allowed at least one run in five of his past six outings.
Ike Davis then gave the Mets the lead for good in the 6-5, 11-inning victory with a single through the left side of the infield in the 11th against Belisle that plated David Wright. Wright went 2-for-3 with three walks to lift his average to .397. He also drove in the game's opening two runs. Ramon Ramirez notched his first Mets save.
OY: Santana is now winless in his first five starts of a season for the first time since his rookie season in 2000 with the Twins.
Pitching in Denver for the first time in his career, and pitching on standard rest for the first time this season, he surrendered only two hits in his six scoreless innings.
New York Mets
Throw out Santana's debacle in Atlanta -- when he was chased after recording a career-low four outs -- and he has allowed two runs in 22 2/3 innings over his other four starts.
The southpaw has not given up a run in 22 innings against the Rockies in his career. That is the longest scoreless-inning streak against Colorado by any major league pitcher to open his career, passing John Grabow’s 18 1/3 scoreless innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Terry Mulholland now ranks third with 17 scoreless innings against the Rockies to open his career, followed by Mike Adams with 16 1/3.
After failing to score while Santana was pitching in any of his first four starts, Wright delivered a two-run double in a three-run first inning against 49-year-old Jamie Moyer. Santana received stellar defense too in the form of another “Nieuwenheist.”
Nieuwenhuis, playing in the city where he starred as a high school football running back, robbed pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera of a run-scoring extra-base hit with a highlight-reel diving catch in the fifth inning.
Terry Collins pulled Santana at 90 pitches with the 4-0 lead -- presumably since this was Santana’s first time working on standard rest in a regular-season game since returning from shoulder surgery. Santana had thrown a season-high 105 pitches against the Marlins five days earlier.
MILE HIGH: Ruben Tejada received generous scoring for his final hit of the series, in the sixth inning. And that allowed Jose Reyes’ successor to accomplish something Reyes never did -- produce 10 hits in a three-game series. Tejada went 10-for-16 at Coors Field.
He became the first Met to produce that many hits in a three-game series since Edgardo Alfonzo, also against the Rockies, had 10 hits in April 2000.
Wright, meanwhile, went 1-for-2 with an intentional walk in three plate appearances against Moyer and is now hitting .418 with 16 RBIs in 55 career at-bats against the veteran southpaw.
Josh Thole had staked the Mets to a 4-0 lead with a solo homer against Moyer. It was Thole’s first long ball since Aug. 15, 2011, against San Diego’s Aaron Harang.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets, dressed in western apparel for team bonding, fly to Houston. It’s the Mets’ last visit before the Astros move to the American League West.
Andres Torres is due to be activated from the disabled list, pushing Nieuwenhuis to left field for the first time in his pro career. R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.44 ERA) opposes Astros right-hander Bud Norris (1-1, 5.24) in Monday’s series opener.
The Mets appear inclined to keep righty-hitting Zach Lutz for the bench and demote Jordany Valdespin to clear roster room for Torres. Houston has lost six straight series.
Mike Pelfrey, meanwhile, is due to visit Dr. James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Fla., on Monday. He is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.