NEW YORK -- Freddie Freeman finished with five RBI and hit a mammoth three-run homer during a seven-run second inning and Kris Medlen threw 6 1/3 solid innings as the Atlanta Braves routed the New York Mets 9-3 in front of 30,388 Saturday at Citi Field.
The Braves' 14th win in their last 17 games kept them atop the National League wild card race. The Mets lost for the sixth time in their last eight games to fall a season-high six games below .500.
The Braves sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning as Mets starter Johan Santana, back after missing three weeks with a right ankle sprain, endured one of the worst starts of his career. Michael Bourn had three singles for the Braves while Freeman, Reed Johnson and Jason Heyward had two hits apiece.
Medlen (3-1) allowed one run for the third time in as many starts since joining the rotation on July 31. He gave up five hits -- including three in the second -- and one walk while striking out seven.
Santana (6-8) allowed eight runs on eight hits and one walk in just 1 1/3 innings. Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres each had two hits and an RBI for the Mets.
Santana's return was a nightmarish one as he failed to last two innings for only the second time in 283 career starts. Bourn singled on Santana's second pitch of the game, and he and Johnson scored on Freeman's two-out double to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
The Braves chased Santana in the second, when they recorded five singles. Chipper Jones' RBI single chased Santana and Freeman greeted reliever Jeremy Hefner with a monstrous three-run homer off the top of the apple in center field to give the Braves a 9-0 lead. The seven runs in the second inning were the most the Braves have scored in a single frame all year.
Santana has allowed at least six runs in each of his last four starts and in five of his nine starts since he threw the Mets' first no-hitter on June 1. He surrendered six runs in a start just 12 times in 222 starts from his first season as a full-time starter in 2004 through 2010.
Every Braves starter had at least one hit in the first five innings except catcher Brian McCann, who missed the previous two games as he waited for a cortisone shot to take effect in his sore right shoulder.
The Mets pieced together a run in the second, when Ike Davis singled, went to second on Mike Baxter's one-out single and scored on Andres Torres' single.
NOTES: Santana lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Braves on April 17, when he allowed six runs (four earned). He has a 12.79 ERA in four starts against Atlanta this season. ... To make room for Santana on the roster, the Mets designated for assignment left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson, who gave up four runs in one-third of an inning in his lone appearance with the Mets Wednesday. ... Jones was back in the lineup after missing Friday's game with a sore back. With his single in the second inning, he has delivered at least one hit in 31 of his last 36 games. ... Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a lower back strain, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. Prior to getting hurt, Hanson was 12-5 with a 4.29 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 126 innings. ... Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who was placed on the disabled list Aug. 1 with a right groin strain, allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings in his first rehab start for Gwinnett on Friday.