Angels' bats turn power back on
Guerrero, Rivera go deep, back Santana's solid start
TORONTO -- The power is back on.
Vladimir Guerrero crushed a solo homer, his 11th of the season, giving the Angels the lead in the sixth inning, and Juan Rivera unloaded a two-run shot in the eighth, his 20th, powering a 7-3 Rogers Centre decision over the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Ervin Santana was the beneficiary of brilliant defense to go with the boisterous offense in cruising to his fourth straight win in August, a month that has brought the smile back to the 26-year-old Dominican Republic native.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia liked what he saw from Santana, who is rounding into form after pitching only 31 1/3 innings before July with right elbow and forearm issues.
"His power breaking ball has reemerged," Scioscia said. "His ability to locate his fastball with good life is the basis of his stuff. And his changeup he's had this year is more effective than his changeup last year.
"His velocity [in the 91-95-mph range on Saturday] is plenty. When he locates it, he's going to get it by guys. His velocity isn't that far off. We're excited to see what he's doing out there."
Santana's ERA across his past four starts is 3.33, bringing it down to 6.13 for the season.
"That's me right there," he said, referring to the pitcher who went six innings and yielded three runs. "I know I'm not going to throw 96 [mph] for the rest of my life, so I have to focus on my location."
Guerrero's location was left field. He lifted one pitch over the wall, and crashed a 370-foot single off the wall before Rivera found the right-field corner with an opposite-field homer to seal it.
"My main adjustment was the pattern pitchers are making to me," Guerrero said through Jose Mota's translation when asked about a 4-for-17 skid coming into the game. "I saw a lot of sliders today, in and out of the zone. Fortunately, I got one I could hit."
The Jays threw him two fastballs all day, both out of the strike zone.
"The Vladdy pitch was just executing sliders down and away. [It was] working well until that point," Toronto starter Scott Richmond said. "I just didn't execute one, and that's why he is who he is. He makes you pay when you miss."
Rivera, who has lined three times into outs in the series, finally vented with his opposite-field drive against lefty Brian Tallet.
"He's been squaring balls up," Scioscia said, "and that's one they couldn't catch."
The Angels continue to catch just about everything.
Third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar made their customary highlight-reel plays. Figgins darted behind third to backhand a smash and throw out Randy Ruiz in the sixth, two innings after Aybar had ranged about 30 feet to his left to take a hit from Rod Barajas.
Taking Santana out of a two-on jam in the second, Aybar used his amazingly quick feet to come from deep in the hole to reach second in time to turn a double play started by Maicer Izturis.
"I don't see that many shortstops who can play that far off the base and turn that double play," Scioscia said. "The play Figgy made, that's as good as you're going to see."
Aybar, lifting his average to .311, had a double and two singles and scored twice, while Izturis joined Guerrero with a pair of hits and drove in two runs.
Gary Matthews Jr. added an RBI triple to the loud noises made by an Angels offense that had slowed to a total of 10 runs in the three previous games after averaging 8.1 for eight contests.
After Adam Lind smacked a three-run homer in the third inning to bring Toronto even, Santana settled in and allowed only two singles and two walks the rest of the way.
"Ervin didn't make too many mistakes," Scioscia said. "That's a tough left-handed lineup. He got a [fastball] a little up and over to Lind. The runs we got gave Ervin a chance to settle in, and he gave us six strong innings."
Santana pushed through with some help from his gloved friends, including catcher Jeff Mathis, who called the pitches and doubled in four at-bats.
"He's been battling," Figgins said of Santana. "That's the main thing. Remember, he didn't have Spring Training."
The Angels put together a three-run third against Richmond (6-7) on doubles by Aybar, Figgins and Izturis and a Matthews walk.
Figgins' double to right delivered the first run, and Izturis cashed in two when Lind was unable to complete a diving stab in left.
Santana (7-6) survived a 27-pitch first inning and reached 72 pitches through three frames.
He managed to make it through six innings with 107 deliveries. Darren Oliver took the baton from Santana and unleashed two scoreless innings, disturbed by only one single, while striking out two.
Kevin Jepsen finished up with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit while striking out one.
The Angels send right-hander Trevor Bell out in his third Major League start on Sunday as they wrap up a 10-game trip against Blue Jays southpaw Ricky Romero.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.