NEW YORK — Johan Santana and the Mets have been pitching well for weeks. Now, the big bats are beginning to come around. And all of a sudden, after a sluggish start, New York looks like a legitimate threat in the NL East again.
David Wright drove in four runs, Ike Davis added three RBIs and the streaking Mets won their sixth straight game, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-5 on Tuesday night for a doubleheader sweep.
"We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now," Jeff Francoeur said.
In the opener, Jason Bay hit his first home run for New York to back another stingy outing by Santana as the Mets marched to a 4-0 victory in a virtually empty stadium.
More fans showed for the originally scheduled nightcap and watched as 35-year-old rookie reliever Hisanori Takahashi (2-1) bailed out a Mets starter for the second time in five days. Wright hit a bases-loaded triple, Davis had a two-run double and New York (12-9) set a season high for runs while improving to 8-1 on its 10-game homestand.
The surge has coincided with the arrival of Davis, a rookie first baseman who was called up from the minors on April 19. He helped the Mets earn their first doubleheader sweep of the Dodgers since Aug. 28, 1971, at Shea Stadium.
"I knew once some of those middle-of-the-order guys hit, it could be a lot of fun," manager Jerry Manuel said.
In the nightcap, New York opened a 3-0 lead against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (0-3) in the first inning on an RBI single by Jose Reyes, a run-scoring triple by Bay and Davis’ sacrifice fly.
Another walk-filled meltdown by winless left-hander Oliver Perez helped the Dodgers tie it in the fourth, but that’s when Manuel turned to Takahashi.
The left-hander from Japan forced home the tying run with a two-out walk to Reed Johnson, then struck out James Loney on a borderline 3-2 pitch, prompting a vehement argument from Loney that got him ejected by plate umpire Angel Campos.
"I think it was unnecessary. I think it was unfortunate on the umpire’s part, not James’ part," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Takahashi hung around and tossed 3 1-3 strong innings, allowing one run and striking out five for his latest big effort in long relief.
A non-roster invite to spring training, he fanned seven in three impressive innings Friday night against Atlanta for his first major league win. Takahashi entered that game as a replacement for John Maine, who came out early with pain in his non-pitching arm.
"He’s making a strong case for himself to be a part of the rotation if we continue to have issues," Manuel said.
Wright, who began the day in a 7-for-42 slump (.167), punched an RBI single to right-center in the fifth for his 1,000th career hit, snapping a 3-all tie.
"I’m glad I could finally contribute to a win," he said.
Davis followed with a two-run double, and Wright made it 10-3 in the sixth with his triple off George Sherrill moments after a key throwing error by shortstop Jamey Carroll.
"You walk four guys in four-plus innings, you’re going to get hurt," Haeger said. "They grabbed the momentum there in the fifth inning when I walked two."
Wright finished 3 for 3 with a walk in the nightcap.
"Line drives up the middle," Manuel said. "He’s close to heating up."
Santana (3-1) worked his way around early traffic on the bases, tossing six innings of four-hit ball to extend a run of splendid performances by the Mets’ surprising rotation.
Luis Castillo hit a two-run single and New York pitched its second consecutive shutout, following Mike Pelfrey’s 1-0 win Sunday night over Atlanta in a game that was called in the sixth inning because of rain.
"Everybody feels very motivated, and it’s good to see," Santana said.
More wet weather Monday night led to Tuesday’s old-fashioned, single-admission, twinight doubleheader — but few fans made it to blustery Citi Field in time for the first pitch at 4:10 p.m.
There were still sections of empty seats down low by the time Wright dived headfirst to score on a second-inning wild pitch by Hiroki Kuroda (2-1).
More fans began filing in as the night wore on, but the sparse crowd never approached the announced attendance of 32,012.
"At some point it felt like we were down in Port St. Lucie playing a spring training game," Santana said between games. "But we knew it was a very meaningful game for us. And then as the game was going we got more into it."
Including a 1-0 loss Sunday at Washington, Los Angeles was blanked in consecutive games for the first time since June 2008 at San Diego and Detroit.
Missing injured slugger Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers have lost five of six.
"We have to pitch better. We have to play better. It’s as simple as that," Torre said. "We need to get better and we need to win three or four in a row to get that inner-confidence back."
NOTES: After the doubleheader, the Dodgers optioned reliever Jon Link to Triple-A Albuquerque and transferred C Brad Ausmus to the 60-day disabled list to make roster room for RHP John Ely, who was called up from Albuquerque to start Wednesday against the Mets. … It was New York’s first doubleheader sweep since June 2007 at Philadelphia. … Takahashi leads major league relievers with 21 strikeouts, in 14 1-3 innings.