Signed to a $14.1 million, one-year contract on March 12 after season-ending elbow injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Santana allowed hits to his first two batters. After Ruben Tejada's single, Santana retired David Wright on a sacrifice fly that started a streak of six straight outs.
"It feels very good," Santana said. "The ball was coming (out) very good. ... First outing in the National League, it's very good. I'm very happy with the performance today."
Santana is not expected to join the Braves until mid-April as he works to strengthen his arm and get his pitch count up. Other than the later-than-usual start date, he said everything else felt typical.
"Same baseball, nothing's changed," he said.
Before the game, the Braves said Beachy will have ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow for the second time Friday, when Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache will operate in Los Angeles. Medlen had an elbow ligament replaced by Dr. James Andrews for the second time Tuesday.
Justin Upton went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and was robbed of a potential home run on an outstanding grab by center fielder Juan Lagares. B.J. Upton was 2 for 4 with a RBI, and Jason Heyward was 1 for 2 with a walk and triple.
Ruben Tejada was 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Anthony Recker hit a winning three-run homer in the ninth off Eric Pfisterer.
"They were ambushing like crazy," Wheeler said, referring to Atlanta's hitters sitting on his fastball early in counts. "I'm sure everybody saw that. I had to mix it up a little bit. I threw a lot of changeups today, and it was working well for me. I tried to go without the slider today, just to do it, so I had to throw my other stuff more. I'll probably use that a lot against them during the season. I didn't want to give them a good look at it."
UP, UP AND ...
Lagares, who impressed last season with his defense, made another brilliant play in the field in the first inning when he caught Justin Upton's drive. Wheeler said he was certain the ball would be a home run, but Lagares was able to make the grab.
"I thought I had a chance, but I was a little surprised to bring it back from the other side," Lagares said. "I had to look in my glove quick to be sure. I saw it there and I said, `Oh, I got it.' That's no easy play, but that's what we're here for. We practice that a lot -- how deep the fence is from the grass. I had a lot of time to figure out when to make the jump because it was a high fly so I was able to time it."
Mets first baseman Ike Davis played his first exhibition game since March 2 and went 0 for 3. Davis had been sidelined with tight calf muscles. Lucas Duda, who has not played since March 3 due to a tight hamstring, is to play first base Friday against Minnesota, with Davis the designated hitter.