SEATTLE (AP)—Even lethargic, Ervin Santana was dominant.
Despite feeling listless and drained all night, Santana didn’t show it with his pitches. The Los Angeles Angels’ right-hander pitched into the eighth inning, barely missing out on a second consecutive complete game in the Angels 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
After beating Detroit 3-2 last week with his third career complete game, Santana nearly bested himself against Seattle, the popular pick before the season to challenge the Angels in the AL West. He finally went to the bench with two outs in the eighth after giving up a solo home run to Seattle’s Jose Lopez.
“I did not have my best stuff tonight,” Santana said. “I just felt like I had no energy. Everything, (I had) no energy.”
Try explaining that to the Mariners, who managed just two runs and six hits off Santana, and were held to two runs or less for the 19th time this season.
As for that challenge Seattle was expected to provide in the division? The Mariners are now 13 1/2 games back of the Angels after Monday night’s loss.
Santana may have felt tired, but he was good enough to make up for an Angels’ offense that continues to struggle scoring runs. The Angels failed to score more than four runs for the 13th straight game. But they are now 9-4 during the stretch, thanks to tremendous pitching, having held their opponents to two earned runs or less in 11 of their last 12 victories.
“There were some positive signs (on offense), but our pitching picked us up again tonight,” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said.
The offense the Angels did get came from an unlikely source: the bottom of their batting order. Jeff Mathis hit his fourth homer of the season, part of the six hits produced by the bottom three in the Angels’ batting order, all six coming off Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn.
Casey Kotchman ripped three singles, Robb Quinlan had a pair of base hits and an RBI and the trio scored three of the Angels’ four runs. Mathis’ homer snapped an 0-for-13 slump and three of his four homers this season have come in Seattle.
“I just got lucky a little bit,” Mathis said. “It’s been pretty rough. You can see it. I’m starting to feel better in (batting practice) and in the cages. Hopefully it’ll keep on rolling.”
Four runs was more than enough for Santana (8-2), who didn’t face a three-ball count on a batter until two outs in the seventh inning. He gave up a single to Richie Sexson leading off the fifth, then didn’t allow a hit until Lopez’s solo homer into the Angels bullpen with two outs in the eighth.
The homer ended the night for Santana, who struck out three and threw 109 pitches. Jose Arredondo got the final out of the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth for his league-leading 22nd save in 23 chances.
“I’m feeling good. I was just trying not to let anybody see my body language,” Santana said.
Washburn (2-7) lost his third straight decision and has just one win since the second week of the season. He cruised through the first two innings, before Kotchman’s single and Mathis’ homer over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field in the third.
The Angels added two more in the fourth. Gary Matthews Jr., Kotchman and Quinlan started the inning with three straight singles, the last scoring Matthews. Maicer Izturis later beat out a potential inning-ending double play, allowing Kotchman to score from third.
“I feel like I’m throwing pretty good for the most part, but one or two key mistakes in each game comes back to bite me,” Washburn said.
Seattle’s scored a run in the third, courtesy of Ichiro Suzuki’s triple past Torii Hunter in center and Lopez’s double that scooted past Quinlan’s glove at third and dribbled into the left-field corner.
Hunter did have a defensive gem in the seventh, making a running backhanded catch of Reed’s drive near the warning track.
Seattle manager John McLaren returned Sexson to the lineup after he sat the previous five games. McLaren said the time off was to let Sexson work on some issues with his swing, hoping to improve on his .200 average entering the game.
Sexson went 1-for-2 with a walk.
“I like what I saw,” McLaren said.
Angels’ OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero was held out of the lineup with a sore right knee after a hard slide into third during Sunday’s game against Detroit. … Seattle RHP Miguel Batista experienced some tightness in his groin during Sunday’s start against Detroit, but said he shouldn’t have any problems making his next start.