It took a while to know if that would be good enough for a win.
In the seventh, Evan Gattis finally came through.
Gattis hit a tiebreaking homer off outfielder-turned-pitcher Jason Lane and that was all Santana and the Atlanta Braves needed, beating San Diego 2-0 on Monday for their third straight win.
“I’ve got you on the plane,” Santana jokingly told Gattis, as they prepared to leave on a West Coast road trip. “I’ll get you anything you want.”
Santana (10-6) threw five-hit ball over eight innings, matching his career high with 11 strikeouts. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 32nd save.
“I kept everybody off balance with the slider,” Santana said. “That was one of the keys.”
Gattis led off the seventh with his first homer since June 18, before he went on the disabled list for nearly three weeks with a bulging disk in his back. He also drove in Atlanta’s other run with a two-out single off Dale Thayer in the eighth.
“He’s a great hitter,” teammate Andrelton Simmons said of Gattis. “He’s going to get back to doing what he was doing at the beginning of the year.”
Called up from Triple-A to fill in for ailing Ian Kennedy, Lane (0-1) shut down the Braves through six innings. But when the 37-year-old left-hander hung a 0-1 slider, Gattis drove it into the left-field seats for his 17th homer of the season.
“It’s a little frustrating to make a mistake like that,” said Lane, who was making his first big league start as a pitcher. “There’s not a lot of room for error. And it cost me.”
Lane was a journeyman outfielder with Houston and the Padres from 2002-07. He became a full-time pitcher before the 2012 season, looking to get back to the big leagues in a different position. He threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings for San Diego in two June relief appearances, and extended his scoreless streak to 10 1/3 innings before Gattis’ long ball.
“The Padres gave me this opportunity,” Lane said. “Beyond that, I’m not sure what the situation will be. But I’m ready to go.”
Braves: RF Jason Heyward left the game after the third inning when his lower back tightened up. He was replaced by Ryan Doumit and listed as day to day.
Atlanta heads to Los Angeles to begin an eight-game road trip that also includes stops in San Diego and Seattle. Aaron Harang (9-6) pitches on Tuesday against Josh Beckett (6-5) of the Dodgers.
GLOVE WORK: Braves SS Simmons made a diving catch on a liner up the middle by Yangervis Solarte in the first, but the Gold Glover was just getting warmed up. In the fifth, Simmons moved to his left to field a grounder by Will Venable. The ball took a bad hop, Simmons instinctively stuck out his right hand to grab it barehanded. He threw out Venable by a step. “An average shortstop makes that play,” Simmons quipped.
LEFTY KILLER: Atlanta 3B Chris Johnson had a pair of hits off Lane, improving his major league-leading average against left-handers to .433 (29 of 67).