Lefty Johan Santana returns from a stint on the disabled list tonight when the New York Mets host the Atlanta Braves in game two of a three-game series at Citi Field.

The 33-year-old Venezuelan improved to 6-4 on the season with eight innings of scoreless ball in a 5-0 defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 30, then lost three straight decisions - allowing 28 hits and 19 runs in 12 2/3 innings - before he was shelved with a sprained right ankle on July 21.

Santana dropped a 6-1 decision to the Braves and fell to 3-8 lifetime against them on July 15 at Turner Field, when he was touched for eight hits and six runs in five innings.

In 15 career starts against Atlanta, he's posted a 2.99 earned run average and struck out 69 batters in 90 1/3 innings.

Santana is 4-3 in 10 home starts this season with a pair of complete-game shutouts - including a June 1 no-hitter against St. Louis that was the first in Mets history.

In Friday's series opener, Paul Maholm fired his fourth career shutout Friday as the Braves blanked the Mets, 4-0.

Maholm (10-7), who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs before the non-waiver trade deadline, allowed just three hits and struck out five without walking a batter to earn his first victory as a Brave.

"Obviously it's pretty good to get off to a good start with a new team," Maholm said. "To get a complete game in my first win is a lot of fun."

Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla each clubbed two-run home runs for Atlanta, which won for the fourth time in their last five games.

Matt Harvey (1-3) pitched well in defeat, giving up just two runs on two hits. But he did walk five and absorbed the loss for the Mets, who have dropped their last six meetings with Atlanta.

"He's got all the talent he needs to compete up here," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "All he has to do is make pitches."

Atlanta counters with right-hander Kris Medlen, who makes his third start of the season after 38 straight relief appearances.

The 26-year-old is 1-0 in two starts while allowing nine hits and two runs with nine strikeouts across 10 1/3 innings.

In 54 1/3 innings as a reliever, he was 1-1 with a save and seven holds, including two appearances against the Mets in mid-July.

In those games - both won by the Braves - he allowed a run on three hits in 3 2/3 innings of work with two walks and three strikeouts.

Lifetime against the Mets, he's allowed just five runs in 27 1/3 innings.

The Mets took their first four games against the Braves this season before losing six straight in which the Braves have outscored New York, 48-22.