KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- So was this the best game Ervin Santana ever threw?
"So far," said the Los Angeles Angels' unbeaten right-hander, a sly smile spreading across his face.
In his first complete game since the night he got his first major league victory in 2005, Santana (6-0) allowed four hits and no walks and struck out nine in a masterful 4-0 victory Monday night over Kansas City.
Garret Anderson and Brandon Wood hit consecutive homers in a four-run ninth for the Angels, who now have a claim to pitching fame to go along with the 21 wins that tie them with Boston for the most in the AL.
Santana joined teammate Joe Saunders at 6-0, becoming the third and fourth Angels pitchers to open a season 6-0 or better. Since 1920, Saunders and Santana are just the eighth pair of teammates to start 6-0.
It's a startling difference from last year for Santana, who was just 7-14 in 2007.
"He got a little frustrated last year because he was going out there at times without the tools he needed to do what he's doing now," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He needed to work on his delivery and get back into his game. When he's out there on the mound and he has his mechanics together, it's a great combination. He got a little frustrated last year."
It was the second career complete game for Santana and his first since hurling a five-hitter against the White Sox on May 23, 2005, for his first major league win.
Erick Aybar tripled into the right-center field gap leading off the ninth off Ramon Ramirez (0-1). With one out, left-hander Jimmy Gobble came in to face lefty Casey Kotchman, who hit the first pitch into center for a run-scoring single.
With two out, Anderson homered off Joel Peralta and then Wood followed with his home run.
Royals starter Brett Tomko went seven shutout innings in his best outing of the year. The left-hander, who entered the game 1-3 with a 6.26 ERA, allowed only two hits and two walks and struck out seven before giving way to Ramirez starting the eighth. Tomko allowed only one runner as far as second and struck out the side in the third inning on just 13 pitches.
Throughout the cool, windless night, each side kept waiting for the other to make a mistake. Finally, by his own admission, Royals manager Trey Hillman did. He elected to go with relievers Ramirez, Gobble and Peralta instead of closer Joakim Soria, who has not been scored upon in 13 innings and got the saves in victories over Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday.
"I could have made a better decision to put Soria in," said Hillman. "But I didn't because it was tied, and he would have worked three days in a row."
Tomko lowered his ERA to 4.93 while Santana's dipped to 2.02.
"Santana was good," said Royals leadoff hitter David DeJesus. "He could throw that fastball anywhere he wanted. He was getting ahead of every guy."
Both starters benefited from some outstanding defense. The Angels' Torii Hunter made a diving catch of John Buck's sinking liner for the third out in the fifth and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek turned in a pair of fielding gems behind Tomko.
Santana threw more changeups than he normally does and had terrific command of his fastball and slider
"It's just trying to keep hitters off balance and throw a first-pitch strike all the time," he said. "We have a lot more starts to go, so I have to keep it up and keep working hard."
- The game was the first of a season-longest 10-game homestand for KC.
- The Angels hadn't had back-to-back home runs since Gary Matthews and Kendry Morales did it in the fourth at Seattle last Aug. 28.
- It was Ramirez's first decision in the American League.
- The Royals have stolen 16 bases and been caught 13 times.