NEW YORK — Johan Santana saved the Mets from a sweep with another spotless outing and rookie Ike Davis hit his latest titanic home run in New York's 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
Alex Cora and pinch-hitter Josh Thole delivered RBI singles with two outs, and Angel Pagan had three of New York's 13 hits. The Mets also got flawless relief work from Bobby Parnell and Francisco Rodriguez in their major league-best 13th shutout.
Fantastic at Citi Field for most of the first half, New York averted a three-game whitewash by its NL East rival but finished 2-4 on a disappointing homestand against a pair of first-place teams.
The Mets head into the All-Star break four games behind Atlanta, with star center fielder Carlos Beltran set to come off the disabled list Thursday night in San Francisco.
The Braves, who had won four straight, still own the league's best record at 52-36.
After scoring six runs in the previous four games, New York didn't manage much on offense this time, either. Playing without ailing shortstop Jose Reyes and slumping slugger Jason Bay, the Mets stranded 11 runners and grounded into two double plays.
Still, Santana (7-5) and the bullpen made a few clutch hits stand up.
Coming off a three-hit shutout of Cincinnati on Tuesday, when he hit his first major league home run, Santana was brilliant again. He allowed five hits and three walks in seven comfortable innings, striking out five.
Following a two-start skid, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has yielded one run and 14 hits in his past three outings, covering 23 innings.
Rookie shortstop Ruben Tejada, subbing for Reyes, made a diving play to end the seventh with a runner on.
Parnell came on to face the middle of Atlanta's lineup in the eighth and set down Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus and All-Star Brian McCann in order. Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 tries.
Pagan tripled to right-center with two outs in the third and scored on Cora's single off Derek Lowe (9-8).
Davis drove a 2-0 pitch to center field leading off the sixth and it soared about 430 feet to the back of the black batter's eye behind the home run apple.
It was Davis' 11th home run — and several have carried to rarely reached spots in cavernous Citi Field.
Lowe was lifted after 5 1-3 innings. He gave up two runs and eight hits.
Jesus Feliciano singled to start the eighth off Takashi Saito and scored on a single to right by Thole, who is 9 for 17 (.529) since he was called up from the minors.
NOTES: Bay was rested — on his bobblehead day. Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he wanted the slugger to have a chance to "start fresh" on the West Coast after the All-Star break. "I think it would do him a world of good to exhale here at home," Manuel said. "I think he's been a little tired for a while." Chris Carter started in LF and went 2 for 3 before getting pulled for a pinch runner. ... Mets LHP Oliver Perez (knee) made his third rehab start, tossing 100 pitches over five innings for Triple-A Buffalo. He allowed an unearned run and five walks, with three strikeouts and two wild pitches. ... Tejada got his first career stolen base. ... The scoreboards went blank before the fourth inning, but soon came back on. ... Braves SS Yunel Escobar turned an acrobatic 4-6-3 double play in the fifth even though the speedy Pagan was running on the pitch.