It's a good thing, considering the Angels' lack of offense against Brad Penny.
Santana overcame a shaky start to pitch 6 2/3 solid innings, and the Angels packed their entire offense into the second to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 Saturday night.
The Angels announced early in the game that right-hander Kelvim Escobar needed arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow and will be sidelined at least two months.
Santana was making his fifth big-league start as a replacement for Escobar, who is serving his third stint on the disabled list this season.
"I'll be taking his spot. I'll try to do the best I can," said Santana, a 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic.
He had to do well to beat Penny (3-5), who pitched hitless ball in his final 5 2/3 innings after allowing all the Angels' hits (four) and runs (three) in the second.
Penny, who worked seven innings, and Kelly Wunsch combined to retire the last 15 Angels batters.
"We didn't have a lot going offensively," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Fortunately, we pitched and played defense."
The win was the fifth straight for the Angels, moving them a season-high 15 games over .500. They have won eight of 11 on a 12-game homestand that finishes Sunday, and lead the second-place Texas Rangers by 5½ games in the AL West.
The Dodgers have been going the other way, having lost 10 of 12 on a 13-game road trip that winds up Sunday. They trail the NL West-leading San Diego Padres by 5½ games.
The Angels have beaten the Dodgers four times in five games this season and in 11 of the last 15 meetings between the teams.
The Dodgers have scored one run in the first two games of this series, going 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Santana (2-2) allowed one run and seven hits before being relieved by Scot Shields with two outs and a runner at second in the seventh. Santana, who threw 111 pitches, walked one and struck out seven.
Shields pitched a scoreless eighth and Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances.
Santana gave up five hits and a walk in the first 2 1/3 innings before retiring 11 straight batters.
"Never nervous," Santana said. "I was trying to hit my spot. That's it. After the third inning, everything was good, down. I was locating my fastball. I feel very good, confident in myself."
Jayson Werth hit Santana's first pitch in the second over the left-center field fence for his second homer, but the Angels scored their three runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Orlando Cabrera and an RBI double by Adam Kennedy.
"They got a couple of bloop hits in the second inning and it worked out for them," Penny said. "The one pitch they hit hard was Cabrera's. I left it right over the middle of the plate, a stupid pitch on my part. But what can I say about the other three hits they got that inning?"
Two were infield hits and Kennedy's double was a blooper to the opposite field.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Santana pitched out of trouble by striking out Werth and retiring Hee-Seop Choi on a popup to the catcher.
The Dodgers didn't have another baserunner until Mike Edwards singled to start the seventh. Cody Ross grounded into a double play before rookie Mike Rose doubled to chase Santana. Shields retired Cesar Izturis on a grounder to second to end the inning.
The Dodgers got two hits off Shields in the eighth before Werth grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"One of the problems is that we've been trying too hard," the Dodgers' Olmedo Saenz said.
- A crowd of 44,107 attended the game -- the 15th sellout at Angel Stadium this season.
- Kennedy's second-inning double extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games.
- Dodgers OF J.D. Drew missed his fourth straight game because of a sore left knee. He remains day to day.
- The Angels have a 22-13 record against the Dodgers since Scioscia became their manager in 2000.
- Angels leadoff batter Chone Figgins got an infield hit in the second to snap an 0-for-11 drought.
- McPherson left in the seventh due to a tight left groin and said afterward he wouldn't play Sunday. He was replaced by Maicer Izturis, marking the first time he has played against Cesar Izturis, his half brother, in the majors.