NEW YORK -- A pattern set in during the Marlins' trip to Washington, and it carried over to New York.
Another great starting performance was squandered, and the Marlins' losing streak continued.
Lucas Duda's infield single that deflected off reliever Edward Mujica's right hand in the eighth inning rallied the Mets to a 2-1 win over Miami on Tuesday in front of 20,192 on a chilly 55-degree night at Citi Field.
The game featured brilliant starting pitching from Miami's Josh Johnson and New York's Johan Santana. Johnson was masterful, striking out nine and allowing one run in a no-decision. Santana was tagged for one run in 6 2/3 innings, striking out 11.
"We've got a better offense than what we are showing right now," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said after his team's third straight setback. "I hope those guys believe in themselves and I hope those guys believe in what they can do. They have talent. Just don't panic. Take it one game at a time. It's too late now to worry about this game."
The biggest plus the Marlins can take out of the agonizing finish was Johnson turned in by far his best performance in four starts. The nine strikeouts were his most since he had that many against the Pirates on April 19, 2011, which also was his last victory.
Johnson hadn't struck out more than four in his first three starts. So the outing was a major hurdle in the process of regaining his sharpness.
"For me, yeah, definitely," Johnson said when asked if Tuesday was a major step forward. "We've got to win the game. Tough one to lose. Santana pitched incredible on the other side. But we've got to still find a way to win."
After tying it on four straight walks in the seventh, New York went ahead in the eighth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who struck out three times against Johnson, singled off Mujica and he moved to third on Daniel Murphy's single to right. With two outs, Duda ripped a liner that struck Mujica's right middle finger and trickled to the shortstop side of the mound for an RBI infield single.
An X-ray came back negative, and Mujica will be monitored in the next few days.
"It hurts. There's swelling right now," Mujica said. "I don't feel anything in my finger. We'll see tomorrow. They say day to day."
On the rough road trip, the Marlins have scored a total of three runs in three games, and they've been outscored, 7-3.
The game remained scoreless into the seventh, when the Marlins grabbed the lead and then watched it slip away in wild fashion.
Until that point, Santana limited the Marlins to a first-inning single by Emilio Bonifacio. Giancarlo Stanton singled with two outs, and he scored from first on Gaby Sanchez's RBI double off the wall in left.
Stanton was waved home as shortstop Ruben Tejada made his relay throw home. It was off the mark, and catcher Josh Thole was unable to handle it as Stanton scored.
The Mets tied it at 1 with four straight two-out walks by four different pitchers. Johnson issued a free pass to Duda, his lone walk of the night. Randy Choate relieved the Miami starter and walked pinch-hitter Justin Turner. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston drew a four-pitch walk off Steve Cishek, loading the bases.
New York scored when Mike Dunn walked Thole, who fouled off two straight full-count pitches, forcing home Duda.
Guillen decided to lift Johnson after the Miami ace threw 102 pitches because the Mets had a string of four straight left-handed hitters after David Wright.
Johnson lobbied to complete the inning.
"Absolutely," Johnson said when asked if he wanted to remain in the game. "I told [Guillen]. He was like, 'No, no, no.' I said, 'I know. I understand. But I want you to know that I want this hitter here.' He was like, 'I know you do.'"
Guillen noted that he had the plan and didn't want to go away from it.
"I wanted him to face all the way to Wright," the manager said. "After Wright, they had all lefties. I wish I would have known we were going to walk four guys. We had a plan. We felt good about the plan. It doesn't [always] work. I didn't want to change the plan."
The game started with boos, jeers and a loud out. Jose Reyes, in his first game back to Citi Field since signing with Miami, led off with a long flyout to center, which was snared by a leaping Nieuwenhuis near the wall.
In each of the first five innings, Santana notched two strikeouts, giving him his 50th career double-digit strikeout game.
"It was fun," Wright said of the close game. "Anytime you go against those dynamic players -- and they've got a bunch of them -- it's fun. Especially when you pull one out the way we did."
Each team was limited to one hit through three innings, and the Mets threatened in the fourth.
With Murphy on third, Johnson's pitch to Duda trickled a few feet behind catcher John Buck. Seeing an opening, Murphy sprinted toward the plate as Buck quickly retrieved the ball and made a fast flip to Johnson, who applied the tag on a bang-bang play at the plate.
Home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna signaled out, and Murphy immediately protested.
"I thought I had him, but I didn't really know where the plate was," Johnson said. "On TV they said it was safe, but then I guess they found another angle where his foot was up."