Baseball / Sports

Santana shines on mound, Gattis delivers at plate in Braves' 2-0 win over Padres

ATLANTA -- Braves starter Ervin Santana was dominating the Padres but, somehow, outfielder-turned-pitcher Jason Lane was doing the same to the Braves for most of Monday afternoon.

Finally, Braves catcher Evan Gattis made sure Santana's strong effort would earn him a win.

Gattis drive on both runs during the Braves' 2-0 victory over the Padres at Turner Field. The Braves won their third straight game and finished 6-5 on their longest home stand of the season before starting an eight-game trip at the Dodgers on Tuesday.

"We finished strong," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Santana set the tone. He gave us every opportunity to win the ball game."

Santana (10-6) went eight innings while limiting the Padres to five singles, no walks and one runner beyond first base. Gattis put the Braves ahead with a solo home run in the seventh inning.

Santana matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts after he struck out 10 in a victory against the Marlins in his last start. He threw strikes on 77 of 102 pitches.

"It's fun to play behind," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "You better not look down for too long because you might miss one. It's a lot of fun when he pounds the zone. When he's like that, that's his game."

The Padres rank last in the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and runs. Santana had little trouble controlling their feeble lineup and his defense backed him up -- shortstop Andrelton Simmons erased two hits with superb plays and left fielder Justin Upton threw out Yonder Alonso trying for a double in the seventh inning.

"Every time we got those guys making a great play for me, it's huge," Santana said. "It gives me more energy to keep pitching."

Santana didn't give up a hit until Lane blooped a single down the line over the head of first baseman Freddie Freeman with one out in the third inning. Lane didn't appear to see where the ball went and got a late start out of the box, drawing a chuckle from Santana.

The Padres threatened to break through against Santana in the fourth inning. Alonso's two-out single advanced Yasmani Grandal to third before Santana got Will Venable to ground out to Simmons.

"His slider was untouchable," Simmons said of Santana. "His fastball was jumping out of his hands and he was hitting his spots. Gattis was blocking his pitches when he wanted to bounce it (in the dirt). He worked great today."

Santana didn't get any run support until Gattis led off the seventh inning with his 17th home run of the season. It was Gattis' first home run since returning from a back injury on July 21; he'd last homered on June 18 vs. Philadelphia.

"I feel healthy and the timing is slowly but surely coming," Gattis said.

Gattis added a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel secured the victory by retiring the Padres in order for his 32nd save of the season.

The Braves faced an odd situation against Lane: there's more information available on him as a hitter than as a pitcher.

Lane (0-1) is trying to make it is a pitcher after playing the outfield from 2002 to 2007 for the Astros and Padres. He hit 26 home runs as Houston's regular right fielder in 2005.

"It's tough against a guy you see for the first time no matter how soft he throws or how hard he throws," Johnson said. "It's tough to kind of get that arm slot and see what he's trying to do to you, what he likes to do, his tendencies."

The Padres called up Lane from Triple-A El Paso to make his first major-league start after scheduled pitcher Ian Kennedy was scratched with an oblique strain. Lane had pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in two relief appearances for the Padres this season.

He limited the Braves to four singles before Gattis homered.

"I think it took a second to figure out what he was throwing," Gattis said. "He located well and kept the ball down. He was pretty tough."

Lane, 37, is the oldest player to make his starting pitching debut with the Padres, supplanting Walter Silva (32-years old in 2009). The last major-league pitcher to make his first start at 37 or older was Troy Percival in 2007; he pitched an inning when the Cardinals used their entire staff on the final day of that season.

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