Manuel defends pulling Santana

MILWAUKEE -- New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel says he'll take the criticism for pulling ace Johan Santana after eight scoreless innings on Friday night in a game they lost to Milwaukee 2-0 in the ninth.

Manuel says he never consulted with Santana before pulling him after 105 pitches. Manuel said he didn't want Santana to face Prince Fielder, who had nearly homered against Santana the previous at-bat, and the heart of the Brewers' order despite allowing just three hits.

Manuel also said that when Santana recorded the final out of the eighth on a strikeout of Carlos Gomez, the ace was overly excited on the mound. The manager indicated those sorts of demonstrative showings, such as a fist pump, are often telltale signs that a pitcher has expended his last burst of energy and is ready to be removed.

And, Manuel added, it's often better not to "whip" a marquee player during the season's first half so that he has that type of effort left down the stretch.

Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi gave up a game-ending homer to Corey Hart with two outs in the ninth that snapped New York's five-game winning streak and 35-inning shutout string.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.