Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) , relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) and catcher Evan Gattis (24) celebrate their 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres at Turner Field. (Photo: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — The way Ervin Santana was pitching, it looked like the Atlanta Braves might need just one run.
Evan Gattis provided it with one swing and then supplied an insurance run later for good measure.
The catcher homered leading off the seventh inning to break up a scoreless duel between Santana and San Diego fill-in starter Jason Lane, and the Braves defeated the Padres 2-0 on Monday afternoon.
Santana (10-6) allowed just five hits in eight innings, walked none and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts. Of his 102 pitches, 77 were strikes.
"He was unbelievable," Gattis said. "That's about as good as you can get by anybody."
It was the seventh quality start in the past eight outings for Santana, who started 4-0 and then went through a six-start stretch where he had a 6.44 ERA. He was 4-1 in July, though, and worked into the eighth inning in three of his five starts.
The bite on Santana's slider is back.
"It was good," the right-hander said. "(The slider) get everyone off balance, which is a key for me. It was working very good today."
It was the 14th career double-figure strikeout game for Santana, who has done it three times this season and twice in a row. He struck out 10 over 7 1/3 innings against the Miami Marlins in his previous start.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth inning to complete the shutout and record his 32nd save in 36 opportunities.
Gattis picked on a 0-1 slider from Lane -- a converted outfielder making his first major league start at age 37 -- and pulled his 17th homer of the season into the left field seats to start the seventh.
"I was looking for (a slider) on the first pitch and took a fastball down the middle," Gattis said. "Then when I'm not sitting on it, he throws it and I hit it out."
It was the first homer since June 18 for Gattis, who missed a month with a bulging disk in his back. He was just 3-for-15 in his first week before singling his first time up against Lane in the second inning.
Then he completed a 3-for-4 game with a two-out RBI single in the eighth to give the Braves an insurance run.
"He's starting to get his timing," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's good to see."
As good as Santana was, Lane (0-1) matched him through six innings. The left-hander allowed just six hits, issued no walks and struck out two while throwing 68 of his 92 pitches for strikes. He also had the first hit of the game off Santana, a flare to the opposite field in the third inning.
"It's frustrating to make a mistake like that in close game where the other guy is pitching well and there is no margin for error," Lane said. "I left it on the plate when I was ahead in the count and it cost me."
Before his transition to the mound full time in 2012, Lane hit .241 with 61 home runs over parts of six major league seasons with the Houston Astros and Padres. It was with the Astros that the right-handed hitter homered in his first postseason at-bat against the Braves in the 2004 National League Division Series.
Lane made two scoreless relief appearances for San Diego in June, allowing one hit and striking out four in 4 1/3 innings. In 19 starts for El Paso, he had a 6-8 record and a 4.67 ERA.
"In a way, this was a confidence boost," Lane said.
NOTES: 2B Jedd Gyorko was activated by the Padres after playing six minor league rehab games with Triple-A El Paso. He had been out since early June because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. ... Padres LF Carlos Quentin was placed on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his troublesome left knee. He had hit just .177 in 50 games since starting the season on the DL. ... 2B Brooks Conrad was returned to El Paso by the Padres after going 3-for-30 in 13 games. ... Braves RF Jason Heyward left the game after three innings because of lower back soreness. He grounded out his only time up. ... The Braves will open an eight-game road trip to the West Coast with a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles beginning Tuesday. ... The Padres, who host the Braves next weekend in San Diego, open their homestand with three games against the St. Louis Cardinals starting Tuesday.