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Ervin Santana makes his pitches count in 4-1 victory over A's

Santana goes six innings and gets out a jam to end his night. Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back homers to spark Angels' offense.

May 25, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels starter Ervin Santana delivers a pitch during the second inning of the Angels' 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Angels starter Ervin Santana delivers a pitch during the second inning… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

His 13-3 career record and 1.97 earned-run average in 23 games against Oakland might give the impression Angels pitcher Ervin Santana has an easy time with the A's.

So might the right-hander's pitching line from the Angels' 4-1 victory over the A's on Wednesday night, when Santana yielded one run and six hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two.

But the game was anything but a breeze for Santana, as the A's forced him to throw a season-high 117 pitches (despite opening 10 at-bats with 0-and-2 counts) and to escape a second-and-third, one-out jam in the sixth.

"He had good life on his fastball and his command was there, but that's a patient team," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of the A's. "We were wondering how his pitch count got so high, but he did flip some of those 0-2 counts to 3-2, and he had to work for his outs."

The Angels were unable to gain any separation from the A's until the fifth inning, when Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back home runs and they rallied for three runs off one of the league's best pitchers, Trevor Cahill, a sinkerball specialist who entered with a 6-1 record and 1.79 ERA.

Santana (3-4) then ran into trouble in the sixth, when David DeJesus led off with a single and took third on Ryan Sweeney's one-out double.

But in the span of 10 pitches, including several sharp breaking balls and 94-mph fastballs, Santana struck out Landon Powell and Mark Ellis to snuff out the rally.

"I know his pitch count was up, but he really dialed it up a notch to those last two hitters," Scioscia said. "He threw some nasty sliders to Ellis and some good fastballs to Powell."

Much like Monday night's 4-1 win over the A's, an Angels three-run rally was preceded by a nifty defensive play to cut down the potential go-ahead run at the plate.

Coco Crisp followed fifth-inning singles by Andy LaRoche and Cliff Pennington with a double to right-center that scored LaRoche to make it 1-1.

Pennington was waved around third, but center fielder Peter Bourjos played the ball cleanly off the wall and hit relay man Alexi Amarista, who fired a one-hop throw to the plate to nail Pennington.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Hunter lined a 1-and-0 pitch over the wall in left-center for his sixth homer and major league-leading 13th go-ahead run batted in.

Callaspo hit an 0-2 pitch into the seats in right-center for his third homer and a 3-1 lead. Cahill had given up only four homers in 692/3 previous innings this season.

But the Angels weren't done. Mark Trumbo snapped an 0-for-11 skid with a single to right. After Hank Conger struck out, Amarista walked and Reggie Willits, hitless in his first 13 at-bats of the season, snapped his 0-for-2011 with an

RBI double to right-center for a 4-1 lead.

"You have to show some power because it might take us three or four hits in a row to get a run," Hunter said. "We have guys who can drive the ball every once in a while."

The Angels scored their first run in the second inning on a rally that started with singles by Conger, who ended an 0-for-14 skid, and Amarista, who snapped an 0-for-17 slump.

Both runners moved up on Willits' grounder to first, and Conger scored on Bourjos' infield single to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. The play originally was scored an error on shortstop Pennington, whose throw pulled first baseman Daric Barton off the bag, but was later changed to a hit.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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