ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When the Los Angeles Angels assembled for spring training, they probably felt their pitching staff featured the best one-two punch in the American League in John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar.
Now that the first month of the season is over, they do have the best one-two combination -- only it's Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, both of whom are 5-0 in six starts. As a result, the Angels finished April with 18 victories, a franchise record for this month.
Santana continued his mastery of Oakland with 6 2/3 strong innings, Casey Kotchman drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and the defending AL champion Angels beat the Athletics 6-1 on Wednesday night.
The Angels have two pitchers with 5-0 records in April during the same season for the first time in their 48-season history. Saunders won 2-0 on Tuesday night. The only other Angels pitcher to go 5-0 in April was Frank Tanana in 1978.
"I'm not amazed. These guys had the potential to be on this kind of a roll right now," manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys are taking it one start at a time and going pitch to pitch. They're pitching deep into games and they're off to a good start, which is what we need."
Santana (5-0) allowed an unearned run and four hits while striking out three and walking one. The right-hander is 8-1 lifetime against Oakland with a 1.25 ERA, and has allowed only one earned run in his past 30 innings against the A's.
"We hit a lot of balls hard off him tonight, especially early," manager Bob Geren said. "Then as the game went on, he did settle in and became more dominant. He has a mid-90s fastball and a pretty good breaking ball and changeup."
Scioscia believes Santana's superb outing had more to do with the way he pitched than the team he faced.
"If he's in his mechanics, he can pitch against anybody," Scioscia said. "I mean, he threw a game against the Red Sox last year that was incredible -- against a team that was the hottest offensive team in baseball at the time. So I think it comes down to mechanics more than pitching against one team or one lineup."
Dana Eveland (3-2) was charged with six runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two. The left-hander, who came to the A's with Greg Smith in a seven-player trade that sent Dan Haren to Arizona in December, hasn't made it through the sixth in his past four starts despite beating Kansas City and Seattle in his previous two.
Eveland felt some discomfort in his elbow while taking his warmup throws for the second inning, and trainer Steve Sayles came out with Geren to watch him take a few more before letting Eveland stay in.
The Angels took the lead that inning on Kotchman's two-run double inside third base, and added a run in the third on Torii Hunter's RBI single.
"He just felt a little something and it kind of scared him," Geren said. "When you go out there, there's obviously some concern. Then after he threw a couple more pitches he said he didn't feel anything and that he was fine. A couple of innings later I asked him if everything was still OK, and he said, 'I feel better than ever.' "
The A's, who haven't scored an earned run since beating the Angels 14-2 on Monday night, trimmed the Angels' lead to 3-1 in the fifth after rookie third baseman Matt Brown committed his second error of the game. Brown, who allowed Daric Barton's routine grounder to go through his legs in the first inning, fielded Jack Hannahan's grounder cleanly -- but made a low throw to first base that Kotchman wasn't able to scoop out of the dirt.
The Angels extended their margin to 6-1 with three runs in the sixth. Kotchman chased Eveland with an RBI double inside first base, Juan Rivera came home on a squeeze bunt by Jeff Mathis that ended up being a base hit, and Chone Figgins capped the rally with an RBI single off Joey Devine.
"There were a couple of big at-bats by Kotchman that really cost him," Geren said. "He had two strikes on him the first time and then kind of missed with his location. Then one pitch he wanted to get inside on Torii Hunter didn't quite get there."
- The Angels will call up RHP Nick Adenhart from Triple-A Salt Lake to start the series finale Thursday against RHP Justin Duchscherer.
- Dave Stewart, who never won a Cy Young award despite four consecutive 20-victory seasons with the Athletics, hosted the A's pregame and postgame shows on radio Wednesday as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the team's move to Oakland. "It'll be the first time -- and probably the last," said Stewart, the World Series MVP in 1989. Stewart is an agent these days, handling 10 current major leaguers, including Oakland's Eric Chavez and Santiago Casilla.
- In addition to his two errors, Brown was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his season debut after getting recalled from Salt Lake -- where he batted .425 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 24 games.
- Ron Romanick, who pitched for the Angels' 1986 AL West championship club, is in his first season as Oakland's bullpen coach.
- Bobby Crosby was 0-for-3 against Santana and is hitless in 13 career at-bats against him.
- Angels LF Garret Anderson, hitting only .222 with two home runs and 11 RBI this month, got the night off. The three-time All-Star entered this season with a .293 career average in April.
- Angels 2B Howie Kendrick is expected to take a side trip to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga for a one-game rehab assignment Thursday before the club activates him from the DL. He has been sidelined since April 14 with a strained left hamstring.