Santana, Pujols lead revived Angels past A's 4-0
By GREG BEACHAM
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ervin Santana took an extra moment to savor the standing ovation while he walked off the Angel Stadium field in the eighth inning. He certainly earned a little applause after turning around a rough start to his season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Santana struck out nine during 7 2-3 innings of four-hit ball, Albert Pujols drove in two runs with infield singles, and the Angels rebounded from yet another shutout loss with a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Mike Trout went 3 for 4 with a homer and three runs scored for the Angels, who finally produced enough offense to back a strong performance by Santana (2-6). The Dominican right-hander retired 16 in a row early, winning his second straight start after losing his first six.
"My first inning was a little tough, but after that, I was feeling better and better," Santana said. "Definitely, it's more easier when you've got run support. I felt great today. Everything was good."
Last week in Minnesota, Santana snapped a nine-game losing streak dating to last season. Before that 6-2 win, he received just three total runs of support from his teammates in his first six starts combined this season - including five straight starts without a run - for easily the worst run support in the majors.
The Angels' inability to put up runs finally led to a change when the team announced about 90 minutes after the finish that it had fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Los Angeles, which has been shut out a club-record eight times already this season, promoted Jim Eppard from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace Hatcher.
Santana retired every Oakland batter between Cliff Pennington's first-inning double and Jemile Weeks' bouncing single under Pujols' glove in the sixth, striking out six of nine on one trip through the order. After he doffed his cap to the cheering crowd, relievers Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri finished.
"Ervin has pitched much better than his numbers show," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's going to give us a good little spurt here. ... He's got a pretty even heartbeat. He doesn't get too high or too low, but there's a competitive mechanism inside him."
Bartolo Colon (3-4) allowed 12 hits while pitching into the seventh inning for the A's, who were off to an AL-best 8-4 start in May.
A day after Oakland sent Los Angeles to its major league-worst eighth shutout loss this season, the Angels snapped the A's four-game winning streak at Angel Stadium, handing Oakland its fifth scoreless defeat of the year.
"(Santana) had his slider working today, so you've just got to tip your hat," said Kurt Suzuki, who went 0 for 4.
Alberto Callaspo had a run-scoring double for the Angels. Pujols went 3 for 4 with three infield singles, pushing the $240 million first baseman's average from .197 to .212.
Colon wasn't awful, but the 38-year-old couldn't match the eight scoreless innings he threw at Angel Stadium last month. He's 0-3 with 43 hits allowed in his last five starts since a 3-1 beginning to the season.
"I don't know if he was as sharp as we saw him the first time," said Scioscia, who managed Colon during his AL Cy Young season in 2005. "We did a good job when we got a ball to hit. We put it in play hard, and we found some holes for once."
Los Angeles rallied for two runs in the third inning when Trout singled and scored standing up on Callaspo's double down the right-field line. Pujols then drove home Callaspo from second when Weeks knocked down his grounder to short, but couldn't make a play.
The Angels added another run on another tough-to-play grounder to short by Pujols in the fifth. Oakland finally solved Santana in the sixth, loading the bases on a single and two walks, but Santana struck out Seth Smith on three pitches.
Trout hit his third homer of the season to straightaway center leading off the seventh. The 20-year-old rookie is cementing an everyday job in center field since his latest call up on April 28, going 18 for 49 over the last 12 games while adding his usual blazing speed and standout fielding.
NOTES: A's manager Bob Melvin said CF Yoenis Cespedes is doing baseball-related activities while he's on the DL with a strained muscle in his hand. The Cuban slugger is allowed to do everything except swing a bat. "He's a hardworking kid," Melvin said. "There's no way you're going to be able to tell him to sit and not do anything." .... Los Angeles welcomes the White Sox to Angel Stadium for another two-game series Wednesday, with Jerome Williams facing Gavin Floyd. Oakland is headed to Texas for a two-game set, with Tommy Milone facing Yu Darvish in the opener. ... The Angels head out on a 10-game trip starting Friday. They won't be back until Memorial Day, when they will finish a stretch with 16 of 20 on the road.
Updated May 15, 2012