ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After struggling in the middle of the season, Ervin Santana is turning it on late as he plays out the final year of his contract.
The right-hander struck out 11 while pitching seven innings of two-hit ball and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 on Friday night to gain ground in the playoff race.
"That shows he wants to win too," teammate Torii Hunter said. "He's stepped it up in the last three or four starts. He's showing people he's still got it."
Mike Trout and Kendrys Morales homered for Los Angeles, which pulled within 3½ games of Oakland for the second AL wild card. The Athletics lost 2-1 to the New York Yankees in 10 innings.
"We got to take care of what we can control on the field," said Hunter, who had two RBIs. "Things got to go our way outside of what we do on the field. It's doable."
Chicago's lead in the AL Central was trimmed to 1½ games over second-place Detroit, which had its series opener against Minnesota postponed by rain. White Sox starter Jake Peavy (11-12) gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings.
"Tonight wasn't my night," Peavy said. "Santana was awfully good and shut us down, and it made for a long night."
Alejandro De Aza got the White Sox off to a fast start with a leadoff homer in the first, but Santana (9-12) quickly recovered and retired 21 of his final 23 batters, walking Gordon Beckham with one out in the third and giving up a two-out single to Alexei Ramirez in the fifth.
Santana's 11 strikeouts matched his career high and he only walked one while throwing 108 pitches. He said he's not thinking about his future in Anaheim or possibly elsewhere.
"I just think right now," he said. "I don't have to prove anything. I have to believe in myself."
Since Aug. 1, Santana has compiled a 2.88 ERA, sixth-best in the AL. He's 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA over his last 10 starts.