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 shoulder 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 1 1-3 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 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.
"Obviously, he didn't hit any of his spots," Collins said. "He fell behind in the count and that's not him. I wasn't going to let him stay out there and throw and throw and throw."
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.
"I felt fine. It was just a rough one," Santana said. "They made me throw a lot of pitches."
The night turned cool and blustery after an afternoon storm front moved through Atlanta, forcing the teams to use the indoor cages for batting practice.
The swirling winds led to some adventurous plays in the field. Leading off in the bottom of the first, Michael Bourn lifted a fly ball to deep left that looked like an easy out for Bay, who had leaped above the wall the night before to prevent a homer by Jack Wilson.
This time, the ball deflected off the side of Bay's glove at the edge of the warning track, an error that left Bourn at second base. He tagged and went to third on Heyward's fly out, then did it again on Chipper Jones' sacrifice fly.
The Braves blew it open in the second. Dan Uggla led off with a walk, Matt Diaz singled to center and Freddie Freeman kept fouling pitches off until he lined an opposite-field double into the left-field corner to bring home Uggla.
"I finally got a pitch to go with," said Freeman, whose hit came on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
Pastornicky followed with another opposite-field double, this one just inside the first-base bag to give Atlanta a 4-0 lead. Then, with Delgado putting down a bunt, Davis made an ill-advised decision to take a shot at Pastornicky instead of the sure out at first. It would've been close even with a good throw, but Davis flung it far wide of the bag, the ball skipping down the left-field line while Pastornicky trotted home.
Bourn finally made the first out of the inning on a grounder to second, but Heyward's RBI single to left-center sent Santana to the showers. He gave up four hits, walked one and didn't strike out anyone — the first time that's happened to him as a starter.
The Mets took advantage of an Atlanta defensive miscue in the fourth. Bay lifted a popup behind second base, but Uggla never picked it up and none of his teammates arrived in time to make the catch. The ball fell to the ground, giving Bay a fortuitous double.
He scored on the first of three straight two-out hits, Josh Thole's single to center. Kirk Nieuwenhuis kept it going, and pitch-hitter Mike Baxter ripped an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-2. Delgado escaped a potentially big inning by getting Ruben Tejada to pop out to Freeman in front of the Braves dugout.
Tejada swiped at his bat in disgust, knowing he had missed a chance to get the Mets back in the game.
The Braves regained their six-run lead in the fifth against Ramon Ramirez. Diaz had a sacrifice fly and Freeman drove in his second run of the night with a two-out single.
Delgado went 5 1-3 innings and allowed three runs and seven hits. Kris Medlen got out of a jam in the sixth by striking out David Wright, and had 2 2-3 scoreless innings. Juan Francisco added a pinch-hit homer for the Braves in the eighth.
Wright had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
NOTES: Santana failed to get a strikeout for the first time since June 22, 2003, when he was pitching in relief for Minnesota. ... Braves LF Martin Prado got the night off. Heyward moved up to bat second for the first time this season, while Diaz took over in left field. ... New York's R.A. Dickey (2-0) will face Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens (0-1) in the series finale Wednesday.