ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ervin Santana took an extra moment to savor the standing ovation while he walked off the Angel Stadium field in the eighth inning. He certainly earned a little applause after turning around a rough start to his season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Santana struck out nine during 7 2-3 innings of four-hit ball, Albert Pujols drove in two runs with infield singles, and the Angels rebounded from yet another shutout loss with a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Mike Trout went 3 for 4 with a homer and three runs scored for the Angels, who finally produced enough offense to back a strong performance by Santana (2-6). The Dominican right-hander retired 16 in a row early, winning his second straight start after losing his first six.
"My first inning was a little tough, but after that, I was feeling better and better," Santana said. "Definitely, it's more easier when you've got run support. I felt great today. Everything was good."
Last week in Minnesota, Santana snapped a nine-game losing streak dating to last season. Before that 6-2 win, he received just three total runs of support from his teammates in his first six starts combined this season — including five straight starts without a run — for easily the worst run support in the majors.
The Angels' inability to put up runs finally led to a change when the team announced about 90 minutes after the finish that it had fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Los Angeles, which has been shut out a club-record eight times already this season, promoted Jim Eppard from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace Hatcher.
Santana retired every Oakland batter between Cliff Pennington's first-inning double and Jemile Weeks' bouncing single under Pujols' glove in the sixth, striking out six of nine on one trip through the order. After he doffed his cap to the cheering crowd, relievers Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri finished.
"Ervin has pitched much better than his numbers show," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's going to give us a good little spurt here. ... He's got a pretty even heartbeat. He doesn't get too high or too low, but there's a competitive mechanism inside him."
Bartolo Colon (3-4) allowed 12 hits while pitching into the seventh inning for the A's, who were off to an AL-best 8-4 start in May.
A day after Oakland sent Los Angeles to its major league-worst eighth shutout loss this season, the Angels snapped the A's four-game winning streak at Angel Stadium, handing Oakland its fifth scoreless defeat of the year.