Stellar Santana sets up shutout of Angels

Stellar Santana sets up shutout of Angels

ANAHEIM -- Ervin Santana dominated against his former team on Thursday afternoon, shutting out the red-hot Angels through eight innings and leading the Twins to a 3-0 victory in Southern California.

The win snapped the Twins' four-game losing streak and the Angels' season-best seven-game winning streak. The Angels entered leading the Majors with 6.7 runs per game in July, but Santana held them to just four hits in his fourth start since coming off a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Garrett Richards entered with a 2.17 ERA over his last seven starts and was coming off a shutout against the Red Sox on Saturday, then hung a fourth-inning slider to Trevor Plouffe, who sent it into the Twins' bullpen for a three-run homer. It was Richards' only real mistake in eight innings of work.

"You have a pitcher like Ervin, who didn't make many mistakes today, it's hard to get something going," Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. "I think we hit some balls hard, but right at somebody, so if something would've fallen, maybe we could've made him a little uncomfortable out of the stretch. But most of the time, he was out of the windup."

Pujols among most popular jerseys

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Plouffe, there it is: The Twins had scored only three runs over their last three games, but Plouffe helped them match that total with one swing of the bat on a 1-2 slider in the fourth. Minnesota scored 13 runs on its six-game road trip, and seven came on a pair of homers from Plouffe, who also had a grand slam on Friday off A's ace Sonny Gray.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats, but both of them were with two strikes, so I'm just trying to put the ball in play," Plouffe said. "They were both off two good pitchers and two guys you have to battle against. But it shows, instead of striking out, it helps to put the ball in play." More >

Plouffe's three-run shot

Joyce-ing for a hit: Matt Joyce went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a hit by pitch, dropping his batting average to .179. The Angels' left fielder is currently riding an 0-for-21 slump and hasn't had a hit since July 9, a big reason why the organization is looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"When you're used to being something and being successful, and you come out in early work, stay late, put in work after, and it still doesn't show up in the game, it's obviously frustrating," Joyce said. "It's a hard game. I'm doing everything I can, obviously trying to stay positive, trying to have good at-bats and figure out how to help the team win." More >

Santana shines in return: After losing four straight, the Twins were in need of a strong start from Santana, who was making his first start at Angel Stadium since being traded by the Angels after the 2012 season. Santana played the role of stopper to perfection and picked up his second straight win. He's opened the second half with 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless frames.

"It was sterling," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Just standing on its own, it was pretty special to control a lineup like that. And then you compound it with the circumstances of a long West Coast trip, where we haven't played very well. You really look for those kinds of performances to lift your team a little bit." More >

Walk it out: Twins rookie third baseman Miguel Sano struck out 491 times in 445 career Minor League games, but Richards couldn't retire him despite getting him in a 2-2 count with two outs in the fourth. Richards barely missed with a four-seam fastball and a full-count slider to Sano, who eagerly tried to walk with a three-ball count, then faced Plouffe and served up the deciding three-run homer.

"I threw a good 3-2 slider," Richards said. "That's kind of one of those pitches where you expect somebody to swing at it, but he did a good job, he took it, he ended up on base, and I guess good for him."

Sano loses track of count

QUOTABLE
"It's great. It's good to win when you're flying, so you can have a happy trip home. It wasn't the road trip we wanted, but we'll get to go home where we like to play. We've had a short memory all season long, so we'll put this road trip behind us and go forward." -- Plouffe, on the Twins snapping a four-game losing streak

"We've talked to a lot of people about him, talked to guys who have had him on their team in Tampa and may have a little deeper understanding of how to get him out of some funks, but right now, Matty's not attacking the ball like he can, and he really hasn't for the lion's share of this season." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Joyce, hitless since July 9

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Twins closer Glen Perkins picked up career save No. 117 to pass Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado for third on Minnesota's all-time saves list. As a joke, Perkins gave Guardado an autographed baseball after the game.

Perkins locks down the save

REPLAY REVIEW
Eddie Rosario was initially ruled safe while trying to turn his bloop single into a double during the ninth, but umpires overturned the call after the Angels challenged, ruling Rosario out. The Twins' left fielder hit a flare into shallow right field, got caught in between first and second, tried to advance an extra base and was thrown out by Kole Calhoun. The Angels are 15-for-27 in challenges this season.

Calhoun nabs Rosario at second

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: The Twins head home to face the Yankees in a three-game series that starts Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Phil Hughes faces his former team, and he has been pitching well recently, posting a 3.13 ERA over his last eight starts.

Angels: The club hasn't made it official yet, but Nick Tropeano is expected to be called up for Friday's 7:05 p.m. PT series opener against the Rangers to make a spot start. Friday will also mark Josh Hamilton's first game back at Angel Stadium since being traded.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.