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MIN@LAA: Ervin goes the distance against Twins

ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Ervin Santana "came down to Earth very quickly" after last week's no-hitter.

If Santana's feet are back on planet Earth, it didn't look like it in Tuesday's start -- and Mark Trumbo's colossal home run may still be in orbit.

The rookie first baseman blasted a three-run shot -- estimated at 457 feet -- and Santana threw his second-straight complete game to power the Angels to a 5-1 victory over the Twins in front of 37,565 at Angel Stadium.

With Texas losing at Detroit, the Halos are just one game back in the American League West, the closest they've been since July 10. The Angels are 48-8 when scoring at least four runs.

Santana's night started inauspiciously with a four-pitch walk to Denard Span, a stark contrast from the dominant stuff he baffled the Cleveland lineup with last Wednesday. He recovered more than adequately though, allowing just a single run on eight hits and two walks while recording his 12th career complete game and third of the season.

"I wasn't pitching, I was just throwing the ball," Santana said of the leadoff walk. "After that I just refocused and pitched."

The Dominican native is the first Angels pitcher to record a complete game in his next start after a no-hitter since Nolan Ryan did it on June 5, 1975. He's also the first pitcher in baseball to follow a no-no with a complete-game victory since Philadelphia's Tommy Greene accomplished the feat on May 28, 1991.

"[Santana's] throwing a lot of strikes. He's locating all of his pitches. He's keeping hitters off balance," said bench coach Rob Picciolo, who filled in as the Angels' skipper while Scioscia served his one-game suspension as part of the Jered Weaver incident on Sunday. "That's what pitching's all about."

The Angels blew open a 1-1 tie in the fourth when Trumbo swung at a high 0-2 fastball from Minnesota left-hander Brian Duensing and gave it a ride to the rock pile beyond the left-center fence. Vernon Wells and Howard Kendrick scored after they started the inning with a walk and double, respectively.

Duensing said the pitch was located exactly where he wanted it but added, "I guess it was the wrong pitch."

Good guess. Though the letter-high fastball may not be a pitch many hitters like to drive out of the park, it's Trumbo's favorite.

"That's just something I've done since I was in tee ball. I've always liked that pitch," Trumbo said. "I know a lot of people get on me for swinging at it, but I think every once in a while it kind of pays off."

This time it paid off in the form of Trumbo's team-leading 20th home run. He is the sixth rookie in club history to connect for 20 or more and the first since Tim Salmon hit an Angels rookie-record 31 dingers in 1993. Trumbo has driven in at least one run with each of his last eight hits, has 14 RBIs in his last 11 games and his 58 RBIs pace the Halos.

Not bad for a guy who essentially began the season as a fill-in for the injured Kendrys Morales.

"It's been a credit to Mark, he's worked very hard," Picciolo said. "He watches every pitch from the rail. He studies pitchers, he knows pitchers, he remembers pitchers. His defense has improved as well. He's worked hard on every aspect of his game."

"He's been a big part of what we're doing here this year and I hate to think what we would do without him. It was unfortunate to lose Kendrys, but Mark's filled in adequately and he's done a great job for us."

Torii Hunter added a homer in the fifth, his 14th of the year. Wells also contributed a strong night from the cleanup spot, going 2-for-3 with a ground-rule double and a walk.

As the Angels have often toiled in offensive ineptitude this season, Scioscia has preached all along that the team will only go as far as the middle of the order takes it. That wasn't lost on Picciolo on Tuesday.

"When they're productive, we're a very good team," Picciolo said. "They're starting to swing the bat real well."

A shaky start to the ninth inning for Santana -- Jim Thome led it off with a single on his 108th pitch -- meant his complete-game bid was in question.

Santana dug himself a 3-0 hole against Danny Valencia in the next at-bat before inducing a popout. Delmon Young fought him for seven pitches before finally succumbing to a strikeout on a foul tip.

One-hundred and twenty pitches into the evening and one out away from his second straight complete game, Santana was met on the mound by Picciolo.

"I asked him how strong he felt. He said he felt great, and I didn't expect him to say anything different," Picciolo said. "I told him this was going to be his last hitter, go get 'em."

Santana made sure the Angels didn't need to summon closer Jordan Walden from the bullpen, drawing a game-ending fielder's choice on the first pitch to Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

The Angels started their scoring by manufacturing a run in the third. Peter Bourjos led off the inning by ripping a ball down the left-field line for a double. He advanced to third on Bobby Wilson's sacrifice bunt. Maicer Izturis drew a walk. Bobby Abreu grounded into a fielder's choice to force Izturis out at second, letting Bourjos score.

Michael Cuddyer came around for the Twins' only run in the fourth, scoring on Thome's one-out groundout. Cuddyer led off the inning with a double. Comments