After a pair of impressive outings, New York Mets manager Terry Collins appears ready to take the chains off Johan Santana.
A rainy forecast, however, could ultimately end up restricting the two-time Cy Young award winner.
The Mets try to extend their winning streak over the Atlanta Braves to six for the first time in 22 seasons as the teams continue a three-game set Tuesday night at Turner Field.
Santana (0-1 0.90 ERA) missed all of last season due to surgery on his throwing shoulder, but has looked strong early in 2012. After limiting the Braves (5-5) to two hits over five innings of a 1-0 win opening day, the left-hander gave up one run and five hits and struck out eight while pitching into the sixth of Wednesday's 4-0 loss to Washington. Santana threw 99 pitches - 15 more than he threw against Atlanta.
"It was a tough challenge out there, but it was good to see that I was able to go beyond 80 pitches, and able to go out there without any problems," he told the team's official website. "Unfortunately we didn't win, but as far as how I'm doing, I think I'm making progress."
While Santana will be allowed to throw as many as 115 pitches Tuesday, he may run into a battle with the elements. Storms are expected in the downtown Atlanta area starting in the late afternoon.
"We're more concerned (Tuesday) with weather than we are with anything else," Collins said. "What I want to do is hopefully get some innings out of him. A lot of it depends upon how he's done."
Dillon Gee threw seven strong innings in Monday's series opener as the Mets snapped Atlanta's five-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory. Ike Davis hit a three-run homer for his second long ball in as many days and Jason Bay also went deep after sitting out Sunday due to a jammed right finger.
The Mets (7-3) have compiled a 1.75 ERA while winning all four matchups with Atlanta this season. New York, which also took the final meeting of 2011, hasn't defeated the Braves six straight times since July 20, 1989-April 25, 1990.
"I don't think this is just a nice little start for that team," said Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, who is 1 for 21 with 12 strikeouts lifetime against Santana.
"They're a good, solid ballclub. All the attention was on the Phillies and us and Miami and Washington. But I've been telling people not to count out this Mets team ... We've got to make some adjustments against them. They've really put it to us these last four games."
Atlanta is 1 for 21 (.048) with runners in scoring position against the Mets this season after going 0 for 7 on Monday.
Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.60) takes the mound Tuesday for the Braves looking to build on a solid season debut. The right-hander gave up two runs in five innings and struck out a career-high six during Wednesday's 6-3 road win over Houston.
Delgado, who has never faced the Mets, went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five home starts as a rookie in 2011.
Santana is 3-5 despite a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts versus the Braves since joining the Mets in 2008. He won his most recent visit to Atlanta, surrendering one run and three hits over five innings of a 4-2 victory Sept. 2, 2010.
David Wright went 1 for 3 with a walk Monday, becoming the first player in Mets history to reach base at least twice in his first seven games of the season. He is batting .542.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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