Santana pitches Angels past Orioles, 6-1
No team in baseball has a better record over the last 5 1/2 weeks than the Angels. But on the mound, at least, it's been pretty much a two-man show with the Angels going 12-3 in games started by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren and 10-7 in games started by anybody else.
On Friday, pitching in sauna-like conditions in Baltimore, right-hander Ervin Santana turned in an effort worthy of his two stellar teammates, holding the Orioles hitless for 5 1/3 innings, then watching Vernon Wells belt a two-out grand slam in the ninth inning that put the finishing touches on a 6-1 Angel win.
Despite a game-time temperature of 104 degrees, Santana permitted just one Oriole to baserunner through the first five innings, and that came in the second when Luke Scott reached on a two-out fielding error by second baseman Maicer Izturis. Right fielder Torii Hunter helped keep the no-hitter alive with a splendid running catch on Derrek Lee's slicing line drive leading off the fifth.
But the spell was broken an inning later when Blake Davis battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before one-hopping a double off the wall in the left-field corner.
It was the Angels' first run off Baltimore pitching in 33 innings but it wouldn't be their last, with Hunter following Izturis with a ringing double of his own to right-center to make it 2-0.
That proved to be enough for Santana, who struck out one and walked one. He gave up two more hits and a run in the eighth, the first hit coming when Felix Pie cued a ball to third that Alfredo Callaspo knocked down but couldn't make a play on and the second on a line-drive run-scoring single to center by J.J. Hardy.
Hardy's hit, which came with two outs, snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak by Angels' pitchers and chased Santana on favor of Hisanori Takahashi. The left-hander escaped the jam by winning a nine-pitch battle with Nick Markakis, getting him on a little nubber back to the mound.
Wells then put the nail in the Orioles' coffin in the ninth, following an international walk to Bobby Abreu by slugging the Angels' first grand slam of the season.
The win was the Angels' third in a row but their first in Baltimore in more than 23 months. That last victory in Baltimore also went to Santana.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have just five hits and one run combined in their last two games.
-- Kevin Baxter reporting from Baltimore
Photo: Angels starter Ervin Santana delivers a pitch during the first inning of the Angels’ 6-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images