ANAHEIM, Calif. — Although the Oakland Athletics weren't thrilled by a mid-afternoon start time at Angel Stadium, they realized Ervin Santana deserved much more of the blame for their dismal offensive performance.
Santana struck out nine during 7 2-3 innings of four-hit ball, Albert Pujols drove in two runs with infield singles, and the Los Angeles Angels rebounded from yet another shutout loss with a 4-0 victory over the A's on Tuesday night.
Bartolo Colon (3-4) allowed 12 hits while pitching into the seventh inning for the A's, who were off to an AL-best 8-4 start in May.
A day after Oakland sent Los Angeles to its major league-worst eighth shutout loss this season, the Angels snapped the A's four-game winning streak at Angel Stadium, handing Oakland its fifth scoreless defeat of the year. The unusual 4 p.m. start made for frequent battles with the low-hanging sun and irregular shadows, but Santana's nasty slider didn't need much help.
"It's not a good time to play a ballgame, that's for sure," said Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki, who won the College World Series while playing 15 minutes away at Cal State Fullerton. "But they had to deal with it too, and they did a good job."
Oakland managed only five hits and couldn't score despite getting three runners to third base in the final four innings.
Santana retired every Oakland batter between Cliff Pennington's first-inning double and Jemile Weeks' bouncing single under Pujols' glove in the sixth, striking out six of nine on one trip through the order. After he doffed his cap to the cheering crowd, relievers Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri finished.
"(Santana) had his slider working today, so you've just got to tip your hat," said Suzuki, who went 0 for 4.
Colon wasn't awful, but the 38-year-old couldn't match the eight scoreless innings he threw at Angel Stadium last month. He's 0-3 with 43 hits allowed in his last five starts since a 3-1 beginning to the season.
"I don't know if he was as sharp as we saw him the first time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We did a good job when we got a ball to hit. We put it in play hard, and we found some holes for once."
Mike Trout went 3 for 4 with a homer and scored three times for the Angels, who finally produced enough offense to back a strong performance by Santana (2-6). The Dominican right-hander retired 16 in a row early, winning his second straight start after losing his first six.
"My first inning was a little tough, but after that, I was feeling better and better," Santana said.
Santana received just three total runs of support in his first six starts combined this season – including five straight starts without a run – for easily the worst run support in the majors.
"Ervin has pitched much better than his numbers show," Scioscia said. "I think he's going to give us a good little spurt here. ... He's got a pretty even heartbeat. He doesn't get too high or too low, but there's a competitive mechanism inside him."
Pujols went 3 for 4 with three infield singles, pushing the $240 million first baseman's average from .197 to .212.
Los Angeles rallied for two runs in the third inning when Trout singled and scored standing up on Alberto Callaspo's double down the right-field line. Pujols then drove home Callaspo from second when Weeks knocked down his grounder to shortstop, but couldn't make a play.
The Angels added another run on another tough-to-play grounder to shortstop by Pujols in the fifth.
Oakland finally solved Santana in the sixth, loading the bases on a single and two walks, but he struck out Seth Smith on three pitches.
NOTES: A's manager Bob Melvin said CF Yoenis Cespedes is doing baseball-related activities while he's on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his hand. The Cuban slugger is allowed to do everything except swing a bat. "He's a hardworking kid," Melvin said. "There's no way you're going to be able to tell him to sit and not do anything." .... Los Angeles welcomes the White Sox to Angel Stadium for another two-game series Wednesday, with Jerome Williams facing Gavin Floyd. Oakland is headed to Texas for a two-game set, with Tommy Milone facing Yu Darvish in the opener. ... The Angels head out on a 10-game trip starting Friday. They won't be back until Memorial Day.