Athletics-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels failed to cross the plate yet again in the first of two against the visiting Oakland Athletics.

Ervin Santana knows his team's offensive woes all too well.

Receiving a major league-worst average of 1.57 runs of support, Santana looks to help the Angels avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the Athletics for the first time in almost five years Tuesday.

In its first game back home following a 3-3 trek, Los Angeles (15-21) was blanked for the eighth time in Monday's 5-0 defeat to Oakland (19-17). Three of those shutouts have come in the Angels' last five games on their own field. No other team in baseball has been shut out more than four times.

"This team is too good to be shut out as much as we've been shut out this season," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think we had better at-bats than it's going to show in the box score. ... It's going to be a grind. There's only one way out of the hole, and that's to grind, inch by inch."

Los Angeles, which has been outscored 20-5 during its four-game losing streak to Oakland, hasn't suffered five consecutive defeats in this series since April 8-July 24, 2007.

After failing to score in each of Santana's previous five starts, the Angels staked him to an early lead during Wednesday's 6-2 win at Minnesota. The right-hander allowed two runs, six hits, three walks and struck out one over 7 1-3 innings, earning his victory since Sept. 1.

"It was a little bit (frustrating), but I wasn't thinking about it because I was just trying to do my thing," Santana (1-6, 5.09 ERA), who hadn't pitched with a lead since Sept. 22, told "I don't have control over other things. I was just taking it easy and trying to take it one game at a time.

"Great feeling. Long time without a lead, it feels great."

While Santana went 11-2 with a 1.54 ERA over his first 16 starts against the A's, he's struggled against them of late, going 2-2 with a 4.21 ERA in his six most recent outings. He was outdueled by A's scheduled starter Bartolo Colon (3-3, 3.96) during a 6-0 loss April 18, giving up four runs and seven hits over seven frames.

Colon, who struck out five over eight innings of four-hit ball in that game, wasn't nearly as sharp his last time out. The burly right-hander yielded a season-high eight runs and nine hits in just 2 1-3 innings - his shortest outing of the season - during Thursday's 10-6 loss to Detroit.

"He was in the middle of the plate a lot and usually he's not," manager Bob Melvin said. "Usually he's on the corners, you know, starting off and actually running to the corners. That's what it looked like to me. It just looked like they were a lot of good swings that you don't normally see off of him."

Colon won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award while with the Angels, his second of four seasons with the club. Since leaving Los Angeles, Colon is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA over five starts against his former team.

The Angels are all but certain to be without Torii Hunter again after he left the team before Monday's game following the arrest of his teenage son. It's unknown when Hunter, who was placed on the restricted list, is expected to rejoin the team.

"It's a personal matter,'' Scioscia said. "We're going to go day-to-day, and we'll just see where it is. That's all I'm going to say."