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NEW YORK -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins took the blame for left-hander Johan Santana's poor outing in the Bronx on Friday night -- his first since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history on a career-high 134 pitches a week ago.
Santana, who didn't pitch in the big leagues last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, gave up a career-high four home runs in five innings, including back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time in his career. It was his shortest start since April 17 in Atlanta, when he got just four outs.
"I am responsible for the way he pitched," Collins said after his team's 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees. "He was rusty. The command of his stuff was not as sharp as it's been the past three or four or five starts. It was my doing tonight.
"We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us the game."
After throwing 86 pitches, Santana (3-3) said he felt fine.
"I threw my fastball, no problem," said Santana, who gave up six earned runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out five. "I felt it was coming out of my hand pretty good. It was just my command, especially my changeup that wasn't there."
Santana felt like he could pitch on regular rest after he no-hit the Cardinals on June 1, but the Mets pushed him back two days. The left-hander even told his manager he could stay on turn.
Santana, though, understood the team's decision.
"I felt good," he said. "But again, when we talked and had some meetings, they were concerned that it was too quick, that I'd thrown two many pitches, and I told them I'm not going to go against anything.
"I knew that I was coming back from surgery, and we've gotta be careful with this."
Santana didn't think Collins should take all the blame for his poor outing.
"We're in this together. It's not just me or him or just one guy. We win or lose together. ... This is a tough one, but we've just gotta continue playing," Santana said.
"This just wasn't a good night."
Santana was bidding to become just the second pitcher in MLB history to throw consecutive no-hitters. But after a 1-2-3 first inning, Santana walked Alex Rodriguez leading off the second, and Robinson Cano drilled the first pitch he saw from Santana deep into the right-field seats for a two-run home run.
Cano's homer snapped Santana's consecutive scoreless innings streak at 19. He had thrown two straight complete-game shutouts and was trying to become the first pitcher in Mets history to do so for three consecutive starts.
Santana gave up consecutive homers to Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones in the third.
Collins was applauded for keeping Santana in so he could notch his no-hitter.
"For all the people who thought I made the right decision a week ago: Because of that decision I thought he needed some extra rest, and I'm also responsible for the way he pitched tonight," Collins said Friday.
If Collins had pitched Santana on Wednesday on regular rest, the manager said he would've been on a limited pitch count.
Collins suggested Santana be pushed back to Thursday, but Santana declined because he didn't want to interfere with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is 9-1 on the season.
Santana is 43-28 (.606) with a 2.86 ERA in 100 career starts as a Met. He said he isn't sure when he will make his next start.Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com