Looking for his first road win, Santana takes the mound Saturday night as the Angels (39-23) continue a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Santana (4-6, 5.32 ERA) has been dominant at Angel Stadium this year, going 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts. His outings on the road, however, have been the complete opposite. He is 0-5 with a 9.30 ERA over six starts, having given up 11 homers while walking 17.
After his last road start on May 24 against Detroit in which he lasted a season-low 3 2-3 innings and was tagged for eight runs in a 12-0 loss, Santana was at a loss to explain the problem.
“I try to do my best every time I go to the mound, at home and on the road,” he told the Angels’ official Web site. “I’m going to keep pitching and one day everything’s going to turn my way.”
Santana returns to the road after two strong home starts. After allowing one run in seven innings to beat Seattle 4-1 on May 29, the right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings and did not receive a decision in a 4-3 victory against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
He has never faced the Cardinals (26-32).
The Angels are coming off their biggest comeback of the season after rallying from a 4-0 deficit to win 10-6 on Friday.
Chris Duncan, Kelly Stinnett and Albert Pujols homered in the first three innings for St. Louis, and Stinnett’s RBI single in the fourth put the Cardinals ahead by four runs, but the Angels scored three runs in the fifth and six in the seventh. Vladimir Guerrero drove in two runs in the fifth while Casey Kotchman drove in three runs, including two in the seventh.
“Anytime we can come back from a deficit, it’s a matter of executing swings and getting base runners on,” Kotchman said.
The Angels moved a season-best 16 games over .500. They have a 5 1/2-game lead over the Seattle Mariners for first place in the AL West - the second largest margin of any division leader.
“They’ve got a complete ballclub,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “They’re a good ballclub and it’s fun to play them.”
Pujols is hitting .393 (33-for-84) with seven homers in his last 22 games for St. Louis, raising his average from .239 to .298.
Braden Looper (6-4, 3.72), who will start on Saturday for the Cardinals, will try to slow down an Angels’ club that has scored five or more runs in five of its last six games.
“You better bring your ‘A’ game against them,” Looper told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “They’ve obviously got a very good team and some outstanding hitters.”
Looper did not receive a decision on Sunday against the Houston Astros after alternating wins and losses in his four previous starts. He allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings as St. Louis won 8-6 in 10 innings.
The right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five starts at Busch Stadium, has made three relief appearances and no starts in his career against the Angels.