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Atlanta at New York

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Atlanta (66-47) «2700000009130
N.Y. Mets (54-60)010000020380

Mets' Santana struggles in return

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves sent a struggling Johan Santana to another early exit.

Freeman had five RBI in the first two innings and the Braves battered Santana in his return from the disabled list, routing the sluggish New York Mets 9-3 on Saturday night.

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Michael Bourn had three hits, Chipper Jones chased Santana with an RBI single in a seven-run second inning and Atlanta roughed up the two-time Cy Young Award winner in the worst start of his career.

"Unfortunately, he really didn't have command of the outside corner with his fastball and changeup," Jones said. "We put some good at-bats on him, but we had a bunch of balls that had eyes tonight."

Kris Medlen (3-1) pitched effectively into the seventh inning, striking out seven while improving to 2-0 since joining the rotation. A solid reliever most of the season, he has permitted one run in each of his three starts.

"I just take the ball and run with it," Medlen said. "I love competing. I love the chess match of starting. Relieving, if you don't have your pitches that day, you're going to get crushed. So it's two different mindsets and I like this one."

Santana (6-8) got only four outs. He was charged with eight hits -- seven singles -- and a season-high eight runs in his first outing since July 20.

The left-hander was sidelined for three weeks with a sprained right ankle, a stint on the DL also intended to refresh his surgically repaired shoulder. But he was hit hard for the fourth straight start and left trailing 6-0 after 43 pitches.

"I'm fine. It's just one of those nights I didn't execute my pitches," Santana said. "I didn't feel anything in my ankle, my shoulder, or my whole body.

"I'm just trying to get my command back. It's been a while since I faced batters of this caliber. I just need to continue to make some progress and improve my command," he added.

Freeman, who had a two-run double with two outs in the first, greeted reliever Jeremy Hefner with a three-run homer that sailed over the giant apple behind the center-field fence. The five RBI matched Freeman's career high.

"That's as good as I can hit one," Freeman said. "I don't know how far it went, but if you guys say like 400 [feet], I'm going to be upset."

The surging Braves won for the 14th time in 17 games and sent the Mets to their 11th defeat in 12 home games. New York (54-60) has lost 21 of 29 overall to drop a season-worst six games under .500.

The 33-year-old Santana, who missed last season following major shoulder surgery, got off to a strong start this year and pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history June 1 against St. Louis. He threw a career-high 134 pitches in that game, however, and is 3-6 with a 7.98 ERA in nine starts since.

The tailspin got especially ugly after Chicago Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson, now with the Braves, stepped on Santana's foot on a play at first base July 6. Beginning with that outing, Santana is 0-4 with a 17.36 ERA in his last four starts -- by far the worst stretch of his career. He has given up 27 runs, 36 hits and six homers over 14 innings.

"I've always said that he's one of those few pitchers that hitters have to adjust to him. Maybe they have," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Santana worked three scoreless innings in a rehab start Sunday for Class-A Brooklyn. Collins said Saturday he thought the longtime ace might be rusty, but he expected Santana would be able to finish the season strong.

He struck out Jason Heyward and Jones with two on in the first, flashing a 90 mph fastball and a useful slider. But his signature changeup was missing and the Braves took advantage on a humid, 84-degree night at Citi Field.

Freeman stroked a two-run double past a diving Ike Davis at first base to put Atlanta ahead. Dan Uggla, who is 1 for 21 with 12 strikeouts against Santana, drew a leadoff walk in the second and went to third when Paul Janish flared a soft single to center.

Medlen poked a groundball single through a drawn-in infield for his first RBI this season and Bourn cracked a run-scoring single to right-center. One out later, Heyward and Jones hit consecutive RBI singles to finish Santana, who never really looked comfortable on the mound.

"I don't see a major difference in him. There's nothing that's way off," Bourn said. "Sometimes the opposing side is better."

Santana tossed a ball to the third base umpire and trudged off the field to scattered boos. Sitting alone at the end of the bench, he wiped his face with a towel before Collins sat down beside him for a chat.

It was the second straight start and third one this season in which Santana was knocked out so quickly he never even got to bat. He also lasted only 1 1/3 innings in his third outing of the year April 17 at Atlanta. In that game, he allowed six runs -- four earned -- and four hits.

Notes

  • Atlanta has won Medlen's last 14 starts dating to May 29, 2010.
  • Jones (back) and Braves C Brian McCann (right shoulder) returned to the lineup.
  • RHP Ben Sheets (4-1, 1.41 ERA) is scheduled to make his sixth start for the Braves when they go for a three-game sweep Sunday night. LHP Jonathon Niese (8-6, 3.82) pitches for the Mets.
  • Braves RHP Tommy Hanson, on the 15-day DL since July 31 with a strained lower back, is scheduled to throw a maximum of 80 pitches Sunday in a rehab outing for Triple-A Gwinnett. That puts him on track to return to Atlanta's rotation next weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Santana is 1-4 with an 8.39 ERA in his last six starts against the Braves.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Freddie Freeman tallies five RBI in the first two innings of the game as the Braves cruise past the Mets.  (US Presswire)
Freddie Freeman tallies five RBI in the first two innings of the game as the Braves cruise past the Mets. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

F. Freeman
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 5
New York

R. Tejada
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF5231011 .291
Reed Johnson, LF5120012 .303
Jason Heyward, RF5121014 .270
Chipper Jones, 3B5111023 .314
Freddie Freeman, 1B4125110 .281
Brian McCann, C5000013 .237
Dan Uggla, 2B3110110 .218
Paul Janish, SS4110001 .191
Kris Medlen, P2111000 .182
    Luis Avilan, P1000000 .333
    Cory Gearrin, P0000000 .000
Totals39913928  
Batting
2B - Reed Johnson (10, Hefner), Freddie Freeman (27, Santana)
HR - Freddie Freeman (14, Hefner)
SH - Kris Medlen (1)
RBI - Michael Bourn (49), Jason Heyward (57), Chipper Jones (49), Freddie Freeman 5 (74), Kris Medlen (1)
2-OUT RBI - Freddie Freeman 2 (36)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Janish-Freeman, Uggla-Freeman
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Kris Medlen (W,3-1) 6.1511170 2.28
Luis Avilan 1.1122120 3.86
Cory Gearrin 1.1200020 0.96
Pitches-Strikes - Kris Medlen 88-56, Luis Avilan 22-16, Cory Gearrin 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kris Medlen 6-4, Luis Avilan 2-0, Cory Gearrin 2-0
Batters Faced - Kris Medlen 23, Luis Avilan 6, Cory Gearrin 6
New York Mets
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ruben Tejada, SS4121010 .321
Daniel Murphy, 2B4000001 .299
David Wright, 3B4011020 .324
Ike Davis, 1B3110101 .214
Scott Hairston, LF-RF4010022 .264
Mike Baxter, RF2010001 .305
   a- Jason Bay, PH-LF2000021 .150
Andres Torres, CF4021021 .242
Josh Thole, C4000012 .260
Johan Santana, P0000000 .091
    Jeremy Hefner, P1000010 .100
   b- Justin Turner, PH1000000 .283
    Manny Acosta, P0000000 .000
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
   c- Ronny Cedeno, PH0100100 .284
    Frank Francisco, P0000000 .000
Totals33383211  
a-struck out for Baxter in the 7th
b-grounded out for Hefner in the 5th
c-walked for Rauch in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ruben Tejada (17, Avilan)
3B - Andres Torres (5, Gearrin)
RBI - Ruben Tejada (19), David Wright (74), Andres Torres (30)
2-OUT RBI - David Wright (29)
Team LOB - 5
New York Mets
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Johan Santana (L,6-8) 1.1888120 4.58
Jeremy Hefner 3.2411001 4.77
Manny Acosta 2000020 8.71
Jon Rauch 1000010 3.24
Frank Francisco 1100130 5.23
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 43-29, Jeremy Hefner 65-40, Manny Acosta 24-17, Jon Rauch 11-6, Frank Francisco 22-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Hefner 8-3, Manny Acosta 4-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 13, Jeremy Hefner 15, Manny Acosta 6, Jon Rauch 3, Frank Francisco 5
Game Information
Attendance - 30388
Game Time - 2:44
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Brian O'Nora