“If I get angry, I just start trying to overthrow,” said Santana Tuesday night after pitching a complete-game, three-hitter in Los Angeles 3-2 victory over Detroit.
Santana (7-2) retired 12 straight after giving up the home run and allowed just one single, to Brandon Inge leading off the sixth, the rest of the way. The Angels’ right-hander allowed only three baserunners on the way to his second complete game of the year and third of his career, striking out seven and walking none.
He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 batters, and never had a 2-0 count.
“I don’t count, but that’s very impressive,” Santana said with a smile.
Manager Mike Scioscia said, “Without Ervin’s effort, we just wouldn’t be sitting here with a win.”
The Tigers, meanwhile, struggled again at the plate. A night earlier, the Angels beat them 1-0 in 12 innings.
“He (Santana) pitched nine innings and he did great, but we know we can score more runs,” Cabrera said. “The last couple of games we pitched great, but we didn’t hit well. We need to start hitting like we can.”
Santana had a 2.02 ERA while going 6-0 in his first seven starts, but was 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA in his last three starts before beating the Tigers.
“I don’t feel like I pitched badly in those games,” he said.
Scioscia didn’t think so either, saying Santana just ran into some minor control problems.
“When he went through those little struggles, he still was giving us a chance to win,” the manager said.
Matthews’ game-winning hit came after Lopez (1-2) walked Sean Rodriguez and Maicer Izturis with two outs.
“It seems like I’ve made some contributions, had some big RBIs,” said Matthews, who is hitting just .217 but has driven in 28 runs.
The Angels overcame a 2-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the eighth.
Pinch-hitter Reggie Willits led off with an infield single against Jeremy Bonderman, rookie Sean Rodriguez singled to left and Izturis advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Although Bonderman had thrown only 83 pitches, manager Jim Leyland replaced him with Francisco Cruceta.
Cruceta struck out Matthews, but Willits scored and Rodriguez advanced to third on a wild pitch with Vladimir Guerrero at the plate. After Cruceta walked Guerrero, Garret Anderson tied it with a hit-and-run single through the right side of the infield.
Bonderman retired the first 12 batters he faced, with Anderson’s leadoff single in the fifth the first hit off him. The Tigers’ right-hander allowed two runs on six hits in his 7 1-3 innings, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Leyland said of his decision to replace him: “You’re looking for hopefully a strikeout in that situation. We felt like Cruceta could get it—which he did — but he just couldn’t finish the job.”
Leyland added, “Everybody will zero in on other issues, but the fact of the matter is, we’re not swinging the bats. Three hits just doesn’t get it done.”
After Magglio Ordonez beat out a grounder to deep shortstop to open the second inning, Cabrera drove a 1-1 pitch from Santana over the fence in left for his eighth homer of the year.
Tigers OF/DH Gary Sheffield went on the 15-day DL because of an oblique strain on his left side, hurt when he was running out a grounder in the third inning of Monday’s 1-0, 12-inning loss to the Angels. The nine-time All-Star is hitting just .213, with three homers and 12 RBIs in 39 games. The 39-year-old Sheffield is 17 homers shy of 500. Detroit recalled 1B Jeff Larish from Triple-A Toledo to replace him on the roster. … Leyland said Carlos Guillen has been shifted from 3B to DH because Guillen has a bad case of hemorrhoids. Guillen made two errors in the opening game of the three-game set in Anaheim. Inge started at third Tuesday. … With Sheffield out of the lineup, Placido Polanco dropped from second in the lineup, where he’s batted all of his games this year, to the No. 3 spot.