Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

April 10, 2014

Santana shines as Braves hold off Mets rally

ATLANTA —  Ervin Santana allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings in his Atlanta debut, Jason Heyward homered and drove in two runs and the Braves held off the New York Mets 4-3 on Wednesday night.

The Braves led 4-0, but the Mets rallied in the ninth after Santana was removed.

Jordan Walden walked Eric Young Jr. and gave up a one-out single to David Wright. Craig Kimbrel walked Curtis Granderson to load the bases before striking out Lucas Duda. Juan Lagares drove in two runs with a single, and Travis d'Arnaud added a run-scoring single before Kimbrel fanned Ruben Tejada for his fourth save.

Santana (1-0) was sharp from the start, throwing 28 strikes in his first 29 pitches through three innings. He finished with six strikeouts and no walks and retired the last seven batters.

Georgia native Zack Wheeler (0-2) allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings for the Mets.

Santana signed a $14.1 million, one-year contract with Atlanta after the Braves lost starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries last month. He pitched like he belongs near the top of the rotation as he threw only 88 pitches, 65 for strikes.

Santana spent nine years in the American League — eight with the Angels and the 2013 season with Kansas City — before joining the Braves. He had never pitched at Turner Field before Wednesday night.

Heyward took a 0-for-22 slump into the game and was hitting only .107, with three hits in 28 at-bats. He doubled his hits total with the homer and two singles in his first three at-bats.

Wheeler, who was born near Atlanta, won his major league debut at Turner Field on June 18 last season and was 3-0 with a 2.89 in three career starts against the Braves.

The Mets' 4-0 win over the Braves on Tuesday night ended with Heyward hitting a bases-loaded drive to the warning track in centerfield on a 3-2 pitch.

Heyward led off the first inning with an 11-pitch at-bat against Wheeler, again taking the count to 3-2, before pulling a fastball over the wall in right-center for his second homer.

The Braves added three runs off Wheeler in the fifth. Evan Gattis, who doubled, scored on Heyward's single to right field. Santana, who slapped a single to right for his fifth career hit, and Heyward scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Each team had defensive highlights early in the game.

After Heyward's homer in the first, Andrelton Simmons was on first base with an infield single when Freeman lined a long drive to center field. Lagares raced back to make a leaping catch at the wall, his cleat leaving a rip in the cushion.

Simmons showed his Gold Glove form in the second. The shortstop went to his right to field a grounder by d'Arnaud before slipping, hopping up to one knee and throwing out d'Arnaud at first base, with Freeman stretching for the throw.

An excited Santana pumped his fist, shouted and pointed at Simmons.

Santana celebrated with another fist-pump after Heyward, sprinting toward the right-center gap, ended the sixth by catching David Wright's drive before falling on the warning track.

NOTES: Braves LHP Luis Avilan, who left Tuesday night's game with a hamstring cramp, had no problems throwing in the bullpen before Wednesday's game and said he'll be careful to remain hydrated in cooler weather. ... CF Jordan Schafer started but manager Fredi Gonzalez said B.J. Upton, hitting .138, will be back in the lineup on Thursday. ... Braves LHP Mike Minor (sore shoulder) and RHP Gavin Floyd (elbow surgery) are scheduled for their next rehab appearances on Sunday. ... RHP Pedro Beato was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to clear a roster spot for Santana. ... Braves RHP David Hale will face Mets RHP Jenry Mejia in the final game of the series on Thursday night.

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