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Tampa Bay at Anaheim

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Tampa Bay (61-52)000000000031
L.A. Angels (67-44) «00003300x6100

Santana's brilliant three-hit shutout vaults Angels past Rays

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- If there's one pitcher the Los Angeles Angels would love to add to their rotation for the pennant race, it's last season's version of Ervin Santana.

Luckily for the Angels, Santana is looking more and more like his old All-Star self these days.

Santana pitched a sterling three-hitter for his first home win of the season, and Jeff Mathis hit a three-run double off the left-field wall in the Angels' 6-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

Reggie Willits' two-run single in the fifth broke open a scoreless game for the Angels, who boosted their AL West lead over Texas to five games with their 18th win in 25 outings since the All-Star break. With his third career shutout on just 97 pitches, Santana (5-6) made it quick and surprisingly easy.

  Angels cut Speier

"We could see it coming within Ervin," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "A lot of areas on our team needed a performance like that. He had a lot of pitches working. He couldn't really have pitched a better game. ... He's a much better pitcher [now] than we saw all year."

A dominant start by Santana was a welcome development for the Angels, who declined to make a risky trade-deadline move to bolster a rotation that's been awfully shaky beyond ace John Lackey and Jered Weaver.

Santana has missed 52 games during two stints on the disabled list this season, rarely resembling last season's 16 game-winner even when healthy. When asked if he knew such a start was coming, Santana grinned and acknowledged he did, citing improved work in the bullpen and a delivery adjustment.

"It was very impressive," Santana said. "I was hitting my spots, throwing off-speed for a strike. ... I just forget about [previous losses] and keep pitching, because I'm a winning pitcher, not a losing pitcher."

Santana was outstanding from the start against the defending AL champions, retiring 12 of the Rays' first 13 batters. He had given up at least four runs in each of his last four starts, but he allowed just one Tampa Bay runner to reach second base.

Newcomer Gregg Zaun had two hits for the Rays, who have lost four of five on their West Coast road trip. Exactly two months after the Rays battered Santana for eight hits and six runs in Tampa Bay, they were baffled by the right-hander.

"He was just throwing his breaking stuff pretty good and keeping guys off-balance," Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford said. "It didn't look unhittable at the plate, but obviously we weren't hitting it, so he was doing something right."

David Price (5-5) pitched four hitless innings for Tampa Bay before the Angels broke through with a pair of two-out, multi-run hits from the bottom two batters in their order.

"We've been playing pretty good ball, so these two games don't make me feel any worse or negative in that regard," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "I fully expect to be back here playing them in October."

Juan Rivera's leadoff single in the fifth was the Angels' first hit. Willits, Los Angeles' seldom-used outfielder, cracked a two-out single to score Kendry Morales and Mathis.

"It just came down to me not being able to make a big pitch for us," Price said. "It's what I've done my entire life, but I couldn't do it tonight. ... Any time I give up a run on [an] 0-2 [count], I'm embarrassed. I mean, the guy's hitting .210. But that's a big league baseball team."

All-Star Chone Figgins then drove home Willits with just his second hit in 23 at-bats.

Los Angeles hit three singles and loaded the bases in the sixth before Mathis cleared them with a drive off the wall. Crawford appeared to be slow to read Mathis' sinking liner, retreating too late to make the catch.

Price retired the Angels' first 10 batters before hitting Maicer Izturis with a pitch in the fourth. Izturis grimaced when team doctors examined his right arm, and Erick Aybar replaced him before the fifth.

Izturis, a .301 hitter who plays shortstop and second base, has a bruised elbow.

A day after hitting his 400th homer, Vladimir Guerrero extended his hitting streak to 13 games with two singles for the Angels.

Notes

  • Los Angeles released RHP Justin Speier. The veteran reliever gave up three homers in one inning last week.
  • Angels C Mike Napoli didn't play on his bobblehead night.
  • Los Angeles OF Torii Hunter started a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday night, going 0 for 2 with a walk. He has missed 29 games with a strained groin muscle.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ervin Santana rediscovers his form from last season in blanking the Rays on just 97 pitches. (US Presswire)
Ervin Santana rediscovers his form from last season in blanking the Rays on just 97 pitches. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Anaheim

J. Mathis
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Anaheim

E. Santana
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 2
K 6
 
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Bartlett, SS4000031 .336
Carl Crawford, LF4000011 .313
Evan Longoria, 3B3010000 .274
Ben Zobrist, RF3000021 .289
Carlos Pena, 1B2000101 .213
Pat Burrell, DH3000001 .221
Willy Aybar, 2B2000101 .263
Gregg Zaun, C3020001 .249
B.J. Upton, CF3000002 .235
Totals2703026  
Batting
2B - Gregg Zaun (12, Santana)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Aybar-Bartlett-Pena, Bartlett-Aybar-Pena
E - Carl Crawford (3, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Rays
David Price (L,5-5) 6865040 5.13
Brian Shouse 1000000 4.82
Jeff Bennett 1200000 3.86
HBP - Izturis (by David Price), Aybar (by Brian Shouse)
Pitches-Strikes - David Price 97-66, Brian Shouse 13-8, Jeff Bennett 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Price 8-6, Brian Shouse 2-0, Jeff Bennett 2-0
Batters Faced - David Price 27, Brian Shouse 3, Jeff Bennett 4
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B4011020 .300
Maicer Izturis, SS1000010 .301
    Erick Aybar, SS1000001 .307
Bobby Abreu, RF4000002 .313
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4020001 .303
Juan Rivera, LF4110002 .307
Kendry Morales, 1B4220001 .301
Howie Kendrick, 2B4110002 .269
Jeff Mathis, C3123000 .213
Reggie Willits, CF3112011 .219
Totals32610604  
Batting
2B - Jeff Mathis (4, Price)
RBI - Chone Figgins (38), Jeff Mathis 3 (26), Reggie Willits 2 (6)
2-OUT RBI - Chone Figgins (14), Jeff Mathis 3 (14), Reggie Willits 2 (5)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Izturis-Kendrick-Morales, Morales-Figgins, Kendrick-Aybar-Morales
Los Angeles Angels
Ervin Santana (W,5-6) 9300260 6.38
Pitches-Strikes - Ervin Santana 97-65
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ervin Santana 11-7
Batters Faced - Ervin Santana 29
Game Information
Attendance - 43559
Game Time - 2:13
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Mike Reilly, Second Base - Chuck Meriwether, Third Base - Laz Diaz