Angels roll past A's for fourth-straight victory
These days, Ervin Santana isn't getting hung up on his velocity being a little down. Not after elbow and forearm injuries landed him on the disabled list twice already this season.
It's a relief just to be pitching well again, locating and getting ahead of hitters.
Santana showed that he's back on track and ended a three-start losing streak, Kendry Morales hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 6-2 on Thursday night for their fourth straight win.
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"I'm trying to put everything together in the second half, refocus, forget about the first half," Santana said. "Good step today."
Chone Figgins added a two-run double in a four-run fourth and Mike Napoli had a double among his three hits for the first-place Angels. They began the second half by winning for the eighth time in their last 10 road games to move a season-high 13 games over .500 (50-37).
Santana (2-5) pitched eight strong innings and bounced back from an 8-1 loss at Texas on July 8 in which he was tagged for three home runs in four-plus innings. He had dropped five of his last seven starts, with his other win coming June 5 against Detroit.
"His stuff isn't quite the same as last year, but he has plenty not only to compete but to win," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Justin Speier relieved and gave up three straight singles to start the ninth. That prompted Scioscia to turn to closer Brian Fuentes, who allowed Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly before finishing for his majors-leading 27th save and 14th straight.
Morales connected for his 16th homer in the second to stake Santana to a quick lead. The drive extended Morales' career-best hitting streak to 16 games.
Santana gave up only Holliday's solo homer in the seventh. He allowed three hits, struck out four and walked two. The right-hander is 10-1 lifetime with a 1.35 against the A's.
"The biggest thing I noticed is he's throwing a lot more off-speed pitches and getting it across for strikes and keeping it down in the zone," Oakland's Ryan Sweeney said. "He isn't throwing as hard as he used to, but he's spotting the ball up good and throwing his pitches where he wants to throw them."