07/26/09 7:47 PM ET
Halos' win streak ends in finale
Santana struggles as Angels unable to solve Swarzak
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
In another rough-and-tumble outing in front of 36,386 at Angel Stadium, Santana surrendered six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Taking no chances with late-inning thunder from the American League West leaders, the Twins kept scoring, scoring in five rounds to snap the Halos' eight-game winning streak and avert a four-game sweep with a 10-1 knockout in Sunday's finale.
Justin Morneau lashed a pair of homers and Denard Span drove in four runs with a homer and single in support of rookie right-hander Anthony Swarzak.
"The Angels beat up on us pretty good for three days, and it was nice to go out there and get the win," Twins shortstop Nick Punto said. "It was one of those road trips where a lot of things didn't go our way, but I feel like we picked ourselves up."
Having won 12 of the previous 13, the Angels were due for a flat one.
"I wouldn't worry about it," Angels catcher/designated hitter Mike Napoli said. "We got one run in Oakland the other day and came back with 10 the next game." Actually, they rebounded with eight, 10 and nine runs in succession to sweep the Royals, but his point was well taken.
Santana was trailing before a lot of seats were occupied on a sweltering afternoon. Joe Mauer singled with one out and Morneau launched a 2-0 delivery into the seats in right field.
"I threw a 2-0 slider away and he hit," Santana said. "He's good."
Santana then retired eight in a row, with four strikeouts, before everything unraveled in the fourth.
"His stuff looked good again early on," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The same things with Ervin are coming back to haunt him -- his ability to repeat a pitch and put guys away. When he's pitching well, he's ahead in counts, pounding the zone. He wasn't totally off. Sometimes you have to give them credit."
With two out in the fourth and the bases loaded on two singles and a walk, Punto punched a two-run single to left. After a four-pitch walk to Alexi Casilla, the No. 9 hitter, Santana yielded another two-run single, to Span, and his day was over.
"I pitched better than all the runs I gave up," Santana said. "Sometimes it goes my way, sometimes it goes their way. A blooper, ground-ball hit . . . it happens."
Santana felt his velocity was better than the 90-92 mph radar reading, and Napoli, his receiver, agreed.
"He might not have been 97 like last year," Napoli said. "But he was 93, 94, I'd say -- better than the gun readings. He was letting it go. His slider's still good. He made some good pitches, but some days the ball bounces different and you don't get a break."
Santana fell to 0-4 at home this season with a 12.38 ERA (33 earned runs in 24 innings). He's 3-6 overall with a 7.29 ERA in 11 starts, unable to find a consistent groove after a right elbow sprain delayed his season by six weeks and a right forearm strain sent him to the disabled list a second time.
"Physically, I'm feeling very good, strong," Santana said. "Just take it day by day, put everything together."
Kendry Morales' homer to left-center with one out in the fourth gave him the team lead with 18, one more than Torii Hunter. It was the Angels' first hit against Swarzak, a 6-foot-4, 23-year-old Floridian who moved to 3-3 with the win.
"We haven't seen him before," Angels leadoff catalyst Chone Figgins said, having gone 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. "He made his pitches. He kept throwing strikes, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate. We took some good rips against him. We just couldn't get some hits and get guys on base."
Morneau's 26th homer of the season for his 12th career multi-homer game came in the seventh against Shane Loux. Punto had doubled home an unearned run against Bobby Mosebach in the sixth.
"They've got kind of a blend," Scioscia said. "Mauer, Morneau, [Jason] Kubel, [Michael] Cuddyer. Morneau's leading the league [in homers, RBIs with 82, and total bases with 222]. They can drive the ball.
"They've always been a team that runs the bases well, has team speed and plays terrific defensively."
The Angels had the game's highlight-reel play: a gloved, backhanded flip by second baseman Maicer Izturis to shortstop Erick Aybar for a force after stealing a single from Mauer, the AL's leading hitter, in the sixth.
Swarzak got two outs in the seventh before departing, the Angels having loaded the bases with a seven-run deficit. Right-hander Matt Guerrier came on to retire Izturis on a line drive to Span in center.
Span's sixth homer, a two-run blow to right, came against Loux in the eighth.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.