ATLANTA – Ervin Santana spent 2014 with the Braves and went 10-4 with a 3.75 ERA at Turner Field that year.
"I did not know that," a surprised Santana said.
And the veteran Twins righthander looked very comfortable in familiar surroundings Tuesday night.
Santana nursed an early lead until the Twins added runs late to take down the Braves 4-2 in the opener of a two-game interleague series. Santana (6-9) won his third consecutive outing and is 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA over his past 10 starts. And that doesn't include his scoreless stint against Houston last week that was wiped out by rain.
"I'm sure he wished it's something you can bottle," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's the same for a hitter when you get on a roll. You enjoy the good trends in the game, and he's certainly been on one here for quite a while."
Santana held the Braves to four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He induced six ground-ball outs and six flyouts.
The Twins scored in the first inning, when Joe Mauer drew a two-out walk before Trevor Plouffe got a fat pitch from Braves righthander Joel De La Cruz and walloped a double to center. Mauer was waved home by third base coach Gene Glynn and slid in safely as the relay throw from Chase d'Arnaud was up the first-base line.
De La Cruz cut the fat from his pitches from there, as the Twins didn't get another hit until the fifth.
Santana rolled through the Braves lineup with ease until the seventh inning, when Nick Markakis led off with a single. Santana ended up walking A.J. Pierzynski to put two on with two out, and former Royals teammate Jeff Francoeur came up as the pinch hitter.
Francoeur worked the count full, but Santana fired a 94-mile-per-hour fastball by him to end the inning.
"Nothing but sliders until the last [strike]," Santana said. "I know he's looking for it, but I'm like, 'No, I'm going to throw a fastball.' "
The Twins finally got some breathing room in the eighth inning, when Mauer homered to left and Kurt Suzuki added an RBI single for a three-run lead.
Atlanta scored twice in the eighth inning to get within 3-2, but Ryan Pressly escaped the jam by getting Adonis Garcia to line out to left with the tying run on third. In the ninth, the Twins added an insurance run when Plouffe dumped an 0-2 pitch for a single to center off Braves flamethrower Mauricio Cabrera to score Danny Santana, and Brandon Kintzler pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save in 13 attempts.
"The game took on a little bit of a different look near the end," Molitor said. "Early on, it was all about getting a run on the board and watching Ervin go to work. He was just on cruise control there for a while."
• Twins third baseman Miguel Sano took grounders and threw for the first time in eight days, but he had his sore right elbow wrapped in ice after the game and didn't sound optimistic about his chance to return to third base Wednesday. "I don't know," he said. "We'll see."
• Lefthander Buddy Boshers (elbow) could be begin throwing by the end of the week.
• Lefthander Tommy Milone (biceps) is still four or five days away from being cleared to throw.
• Righthander Trevor May (back) underwent a bone scan, which came back negative. He will continue to rehabilitate his back.
The Braves announced that shortstop Erick Aybar had been traded to Detroit for infielder Mike Aviles and catching prospect Kade Scivicque. Atlanta will call up 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson to make his major league debut Wednesday.