A pair of former American League pitchers, Johan Santana and Erik Bedard, meet for the first time with their respective National League teams tonight when the New York Mets visit PNC Park for the first of three games with the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
The two pitched as rivals in the AL from 2002 through 2007 while Santana was with the Minnesota Twins and Bedard was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Santana left for the Mets to begin the 2008 season, while Bedard pitched for Seattle and Boston before arriving in Pittsburgh as a free agent in December.
A 33-year-old Venezuelan, Santana won 16, 13 and 11 games in his initial three seasons with the Mets before an elbow injury and subsequent surgery sidelined him for all of 2011.
He returned this spring and was winless in five April starts, but broke the drought with a 4-3 defeat of Arizona on May 5 and has picked up no-decisions in two outings since while allowing five runs on 12 hits in 12 2/3 innings.
His earned run average for the season, which topped out a 3.97 after a 9-3 loss at Atlanta on April 17, has been pared down to 2.89 -- nine points below the mark he posted in 2010 and 21 points below his career number.
Santana is 2-2 in six career meetings with the Pirates.
Meanwhile, Bedard, who was born seven days before Santana in March 1979, has won two of his last four starts with the Pirates after going 0-4 in the first four.
He defeated Atlanta and St. Louis on the road on April 28 and May 3, respectively, while surrendering three runs on 10 hits in 10 innings.
Two subsequent starts, including one that ended early because of back spasms, have seen him allow four runs on six hits in seven innings against Washington.
He won his lone career start against the Mets has a career opposition batting average of .244 -- 18 points higher than Santana's .226.
On Sunday in Toronto, David Wright hit a two-run double, Mike Baxter fell a home run shy of the cycle and the Mets survived a late rally to beat the Blue Jays, 6-5, in the finale of a three-game interleague series at Rogers Centre.
Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis each knocked in a run for the Mets, who led by four on two occasions and overcame a rocky ninth inning by closer Frank Francisco to avoid being swept for the first time by the Blue Jays.
New York starter Dillon Gee (3-3) gave up three runs on five hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings.
"I was proud I at least got into the seventh inning, especially after throwing a lot of pitches in the first couple innings," Gee said.
In Detroit, Alex Avila slapped a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning while Max Scherzer had a career-high 15 strikeouts Sunday as the Tigers defeated the Pirates, 4-3, in the finale of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Kevin Correia (1-5) allowed three runs on four hits in six-plus innings to take the loss. Rod Barajas and Neil Walker both hit solo shots for the Pirates, who have lost four of their last six games.
"He was tough today," Barajas said. "Sometimes guys are going to go out there with their best stuff. A guy like Scherzer, if he has his best stuff on any given day, he's going to dominate."
New York and Pittsburgh split eight meetings in 2011, with each team winning twice on the other's home field.