ATLANTA — When Johan Santana took the mound in the first inning, he stared at the rubber and remembered his last start at Turner Field.
He needed major elbow surgery after that one.
This time, he wound up with the shortest start of the big league career.
Santana was knocked out in the second inning by the Atlanta Braves, who romped to a 9-3 victory Tuesday night and ended their early season futility against the New York Mets.
“I didn’t even sweat,” said Santana, who lasted just 1⅓ innings. “It’s just one of those things that’s going to happen. I can’t wait to go back out again.”
Just maybe not in Atlanta.
He pitched five innings against the Braves on Sept. 2, 2010, in his last appearance before Tommy John surgery. He missed all of last season, but had looked good in his first two starts this year, allowing just one run in 10 innings.
The Braves, however, showed patience at the plate and took advantage of some shaky defense, racing to a 6-0 lead before manager Terry Collins decided that was enough for Santana (0-2). He had already thrown 55 pitches.
The Mets won the first four meetings this season between the NL East rivals.
“We wanted to score early and take some pressure off ourselves,” said Braves rookie Tyler Pastornicky, whose two-run double highlighted a five-run second.
Two costly errors – Jason Bay dropped a fly ball, Ike Davis made a wild throw – led to a pair of unearned runs against Santana, who had never gone less than three innings in his previous 265 starts. He was lifted after Jason Heyward’s run-scoring single.