NEW YORK — Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, helped by an umpire's missed call and an outstanding catch in leftfield in an 8-0 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night.
After a string of close calls in their 51-season history, Santana finally finished the job in the Mets' 8,020th game since the team was born in 1962.
"Finally, the first one," Santana, 33, said. "That is the greatest feeling ever."
He needed a couple of key assists to pull off this season's third no-hitter.
Carlos Beltran, back at Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him in July, hit a line drive over third base in the sixth inning that hit the foul line and should have been called fair. But third-base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it foul and the no-hitter was intact, even though replay clearly showed a mark where the ball landed on the chalk line.
Mike Baxter then made a tremendous catch in leftfield to rob Yadier Molina in the seventh. Baxter crashed into the wall, injured his shoulder and left the game.
Making his 11th start since missing last season after shoulder surgery, Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches in his second consecutive shutout. He struck out eight and walked five.
"Amazing," Santana said. "Coming into this season I was just hoping to come back and stay healthy and help this team, and now I am in this situation in the greatest city for baseball."
The White Sox's Phil Humber pitched a perfect game April 21 at Seattle. The Angels' Jered Weaver no-hit Minnesota on May 2.
Santana got an ovation as he headed out to the mound for the ninth, and the two-time Cy Young Award winner quickly retired Matt Holliday and Allen Craig on shallow fly balls.
With the crowd of 27,069 on its feet in a frenzy, World Series MVP David Freese went to a 3-and-2 count before his foul tip was caught by Josh Thole, just activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.
Santana pumped his left fist and slammed it into his glove as Thole showed the ball to plate umpire Gary Cederstrom and went running to the mound.
The Mets rushed out and mobbed Santana in a raucous dogpile as security tackled a fan who ran onto the field near home plate. Moments later, the pitcher raised his right arm and saluted the crowd, which was chanting his name from the eighth inning on. The scoreboard in center flashed Santana's picture and read "No-Han."
"It was a crazy night — my fastball moving all over the place," Santana said.
In the seventh, Molina hit a one-out drive to deep left. Baxter, who grew up rooting for the Mets only 10 minutes from where Citi Field stands, raced back and made the catch before crashing into the fence. The Mets said Baxter has a bruised left shoulder and would have more tests.
"When I saw him running back onto the warning track and he made that play, it was amazing. An outstanding play and he saved the game," Santana said. "All these guys, I want to thank them for what we accomplished."