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IT'S UNANIMOUS FOR SANTANA

As joyous fans celebrated by honking car horns in Caracas, Johan Santana sounded overwhelmed. He became the first Venezuelan to win a Cy Young Award, and not only that, he was a unanimous choice.

"This is like a dream come true," he said after earning the American League honor Thursday. "I'm a little surprised that I ended up the season where I ended up the season."

The Minnesota Twins left-hander received all 28 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America,

Santana, who went 20-6 and led the AL with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts, became the first unanimous Cy Young winner since Arizona's Randy Johnson two years ago and the first in the AL since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 2000. He is the 18th unanimous winner overall, the seventh in the AL.

Curt Schilling, 21-6 with a 3.26 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox, received 27 second-place votes and one third for 82 points. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who led the major leagues with a career-high 53 saves, got the other second-place vote and 24 thirds for 27 points.

"I'm surprised this has been a unanimous decision," Santana said. "I thought this was going to be a real tough race."

Santana traveled Thursday morning from his hometown of Tovar Merida to Caracas. President Hugo Chavez planned to congratulate him today.

Santana was 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break, mastering his change-up.

"I expected it, with the numbers he had he couldn't fail," said Luis Aparicio, a Venezuelan voted to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Voting was conducted before the start of the postseason, when Schilling beat the Yankees in Game Six of the AL Championship Series and St. Louis in Game Two of the World Series despite pitching with a dislocated ankle tendon held together by sutures.

"It was amazing," Santana said. "To me, he was just a hero. He did great things for Boston and for baseball. That's a role model for a young baseball player to follow."

Schilling, who led the major leagues in wins, has never won a Cy Young Award. He was runner-up for the third time, tying Johnson, a five-time winner, and 1957 winner Warren Spahn for the most second-place finishes.

Replay shelved

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- No further review necessary: Baseball is done looking at instant replay, for now.

Big league general managers split, 15-15, Thursday on whether to keep exploring replay, a straw poll taken following a postseason in which umpires reversed almost every wrong call.

"Based on that vote, it's unlikely we'll do anything substantive in the next year to pursue instant replay," MLB executive vice president Sandy Alderson said.

With that issue over for now, GMs turned their attention back to the main business at hand. That is, looking at trades and free agents.

Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa seemed to interest the New York Mets, and those teams talked for a second straight day, holding a late-afternoon session. Randy Johnson may want to leave the cost-cutting Arizona Diamondbacks for a contender. And there was speculation the Texas Rangers would consider dealing Alfonso Soriano.

"Once you get to a second meeting, things can happen," Mets GM Omar Minaya said.

In something that could someday lead to a speed-up, the Arizona Fall League is experimenting with a rule requiring hitters to keep one foot in the batter's box, rather than stepping out after each pitch. The penalty is an automatic strike, and Alderson said the rule might get a tryout in a low minor league next season.

Around the majors

Roger Clemens, fresh off his record seventh Cy Young Award, became a free agent on the final day to file, along with former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen. Hentgen, who turns 36 Saturday, came off the voluntarily retired list this week.

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought back closer Jose Mesa, agreeing on a $2.5 million, one-year contract.

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