NEW YORK (AP) -By the time Johan Santana figured out his former teammates were avoiding his befuddling changeup, the Minnesota Twins had given Carl Pavano all the run support he needed.
Jason Kubel and the Twins scored four times in the first inning, and Pavano produced another fine pitching performance Saturday in a 6-0 victory over the New York Mets.
``I knew I was going against a pitcher who just had a great outing. There's not much room for mistakes,' Santana said. ``It's just they were better in the first inning and took advantage right away and I think that's the difference.'
Pavano (9-6) gave up three hits in his second consecutive complete game, both of which have come against an NL East ace. The well-traveled right-hander tossed a four-hitter Sunday to beat Roy Halladay and the NL champion Phillies 4-1.
Pavano had two hits and a sacrifice at the plate for Minnesota, which ended a four-game skid. The Twins began the day a half-game up on Detroit in the AL Central.
It was Pavano's sixth career shutout and first since June 5, 2009, against the Chicago White Sox.
``Carl picked us up big-time today,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We got on Santana early and that's not an easy thing to do.'
After Britain's Prince Harry threw out the ceremonial first pitch with some gusto, Santana got a quick out in his first regular-season outing against his old team. But Minnesota then scored four runs on several sharply hit balls.
Joe Mauer, Kubel and Delmon Young all drove in runs in the first to help hand the Mets just their third loss in 16 games at Citi Field.
The Twins were laying off Santana's best pitch in the 41-pitch first inning. In the second he added a slider into the mix and had better results.
``I think that when you're playing with a team so long or faced a guy so long you tend to pick up things,' Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. ``Today early you didn't see many swings - or attempts - at the changeup. And then when he began to mix other pitches in you started to see that they were swinging at some changeups and missing.'
A few dozen fans gathered in a dining area after the game to watch the rest of the U.S. soccer team's 2-1 loss to Ghana at the World Cup. The game was listed on the out-of-town scoreboard and the Americans got a loud cheer when they scored moments after the final out.
Denard Span had an RBI double off Santana (5-5) in the fourth inning and Kubel homered off Fernando Nieve in the ninth for the Twins, who improved to 3-5 on their road trip.
Not only did the Twins end their losing streak, they snapped an uncharacteristic stretch in which they made errors in each of the four losses with several smart plays behind Pavano.
They turned two double plays - one a baserunning blunder by Jeff Francoeur in the third after he bunted for the Mets' first hit. He was caught way off first on a popup to shortstop Nick Punto.
Pavano took care of the rest in his second straight dominant outing. Having flopped mightily in New York with the Yankees from 2005-08, he looked more like the ace the Bronx Bombers thought they were giving a $39.95 million contract to. His ninth win matched his total during four injury-plagued years in New York.
Pavano took no satisfaction from the win coming in New York.
``It's another start,' he said. ``The mounds are 60 feet, 6 inches apart. The stadiums look different but it's the same game.'
Pavano didn't allow a baserunner to reach third and only six outs were made in the outfield. He struck out three, walked one and hit a batter with a pitch in his third complete game this season.
For Santana, the poor first inning was the continuation of a turbulent week.
Several days after he lost to the Yankees on Sunday, reports surfaced that a woman accused Santana of raping her in Florida last year. The pitcher told Florida police he had consensual sex with the woman.
The state attorney's office declined to prosecute the case, citing lack of evidence and inconsistent statements.
Santana, who is married with three children, said the off-field trouble had no affect on the game.
Santana pitched for the Twins from 2000-07, winning two Cy Young Awards and four division titles. But they traded him to the Mets as he neared free agency and he signed a $137.5 million, six-year contract with New York.
Santana allowed at least four runs for the fourth straight start.
NOTES: Minnesota activated LHP Jose Mijares from the restricted list. He was in Venezuela for a family medical emergency. To make roster room, the Twins optioned RHP Jeff Manship to Triple-A Rochester. ... Mets CF Angel Pagan (muscle spasms in right side) said he took swings from the right side and felt good. He will take swings from the left side Sunday and thinks he should be available to play defense or pinch-run. ... New York CF Carlos Beltran, recovering from offseason knee surgery, went 3 for 4 with two singles, a double and two RBIs in his third rehab game for Class-A St. Lucie. He also scored a run and played seven innings in center field. ``I'm feeling better,' Beltran said, according to a Mets statement. ``I'm not thinking about my knee, I'm just reacting.'
The Associated Press News Service
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