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LAA@FLA: Hunter's single puts the Angels on the board

MIAMI -- Javier Vazquez must have felt like the guy who made it safely through a dangerous neighborhood on foot with a wallet full of hundred-dollar bills. Ten hits and not a single run did the Florida pitcher yield in 5 1/3 fretful innings against the Angels on Tuesday night.

The Marlins celebrated in the afterglow of a 5-2 victory that ended their 11-game losing streak and brought new interim manager Jack McKeon's record to .500 in front of 15,344 at Sun Life Stadium.

Torii Hunter's two-out RBI single in the ninth -- his fourth hit of the game -- ended the Marlins' shutout bid against reliever Jose Ceda. After an error by third baseman Greg Dobbs on Bobby Abreu's grounder made it a three-run game, closer Leo Nunez was summoned to save it.

After Nunez walked Alberto Callaspo, Russell Branyan -- representing the tying run -- struck out to end it. The save was No. 20 for Nunez.

"I felt I threw the ball well," Vazquez said. "I gave up 10 hits, but besides the three rockets that Torii Hunter hit off me, I thought I threw the ball well. It was good to get this win for the team, and hopefully we can keep going after this."

Not as fortunate as Vazquez, Ervin Santana continued a run of bad luck in falling to 3-8 while Vazquez moved to 4-7. The Angels starter gave up half as many hits as Vazquez, but one left the park -- off the bat of Gaby Sanchez in the first inning -- and another was a run-producing fly ball by Omar Infante in the second.

Continuing a season-long malaise, the Angels squandered more opportunities than they could have imagined in going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Vazquez gave up hits and stranded runners in every inning. Edward Mujica came in and continued the trend, leaving two in scoring position by retiring Peter Bourjos and pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis to close the sixth.

The Angels left two on in the first and two more in the second after Santana collected his first hit since 2007, and third of his career. Hunter doubled with one out in the third and moved no farther. Same thing happened to Hank Conger in the fourth. Singles by Branyan and Conger were wasted in the sixth.

"I don't think we expanded the zone [against Vazquez]." Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had some good looks at him. Outside of when guys got in scoring position, we hit the ball hard. You looked up and there were no runs and 11 hits at one point. Although we weren't able to get many runs, we had some good at-bats. Torii hit the ball hard all night -- to left-center, up the middle. He had a good night."

The Angels are 2-for-26 with men in scoring position in the series, and 13th in the American League with their .229 season average in those situations. Only the Mariners, at .214, are worse.

"At times, we hit a couple balls hard to center field -- Alberto [in the first inning] and Hank [in the eighth]," Scioscia said. "We've been talking about this for a long time. We need some guys to find their games and score some runs with runners in scoring position.

"I thought Ervin had really good stuff. He was pitching well. It's a shame he couldn't have gone longer. This is one of the games where early runs would have been huge. Ervin probably could have pitched two more innings."

The Angels have scored a total of three runs while Santana was pitching in his past four starts. They have produced a combined eight runs in his eight losses.

"I don't have control over that," Santana said. "I just do what I can to keep my team in the ballgame."

Because this was an Interleague game in a National League park, Santana was due to hit in the sixth with Branyan and Conger having singled. Izturis was summoned to pinch-hit for Santana, and he popped up for the third out.

The home run Sanchez hit, his 13th, came with two outs in the first inning on a Santana 95-mph fastball down the middle.

"That's going to happen," Santana said. "I'm not trying to be perfect -- and I'm not perfect. I tried to throw a fastball down and away. He was looking for it and made good contact."

Singles by Dobbs and Mike Stanton and a walk to John Buck preceded Infante's sacrifice fly in the second. Santana had six strikeouts, two more than Vazquez, and walked only one.

"Today I was happy with my performance," Santana said. "Just 76 pitches, and they take me out."

Stanton's booming bat produced an insurance run in the sixth against reliever Rich Thompson. The young right fielder doubled to deep right-center to cash in Hanley Ramirez, who'd singled with one out and stolen second. Stanton had missed three games with an eye infection.

McKeon showed his decisiveness in the eighth inning when he relieved lefty Randy Choate on a 2-1 count to Callaspo after he'd walked Abreu. Callaspo, snapping an 0-for-21 slump, singled Abreu to second against Burke Badenhop. But Badenhop set down the next three hitters to further the Angels' frustration.

Run-scoring singles by Stanton and Infante padded the Marlins' cushion in the eighth against the Angels' bullpen. Comments