PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A few more starts like this and Ervin Santana's disappointing 2007 season will be far behind him.
Santana struck out nine in seven impressive innings, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 Friday night.Santana (9-3) allowed two hits and an unearned run, lowering his ERA to 3.17. He overpowered the NL's second-highest scoring offense with a nasty slider and a blazing fastball that reached 98 mph."It was a great performance," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.Santana was 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA last year, earning a brief demotion to the minor leagues after winning 28 games over his first two big league seasons and making a name for himself in the 2005 AL Division Series against the Yankees.Now the right-hander is back to his old form, giving the AL West leaders a strong 1-2 punch atop the rotation with Joe Saunders."Last year was last year," Santana said. "It was a bad year. I forgot about it. I came to spring training ready to do my best. I hope next year you remind me of this year."Is it a great year?"So far," Santana said with a smile.As he did when he played for the Montreal Expos, Guerrero picked on Phillies pitching. He had three hits and three RBIs, and Howie Kendrick was 4-for-5.In an interleague matchup of division leaders, Guerrero gave the Angels all the runs they'd need when he hit a two-run shot to left field off Adam Eaton (2-5) in the first inning.It was Guerrero's 29th homer against Philadelphia, the most he has against any team. He has a .370 lifetime average against the Phillies with 82 RBIs in 319 at-bats."I always swing the bat good here, but it used to be in the old park (Veterans Stadium)," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "My first game in the new park and I'm continuing to swing the bat good against the Phillies."Eaton allowed six runs and 12 hits in five-plus innings, ending his streak of five straight quality starts."They didn't hit them that hard, but it seemed like everything they hit was in the right spot," Eaton said.Since sweeping a three-game series in Atlanta earlier this month, the Phillies are 3-7. They've lost three in a row for the second time this season.Garrett Anderson had an RBI single in the second to make it 3-0. The Angels left two runners on in each of the first five innings, but broke it open with three runs in the sixth.Guerrero and Casey Kotchman had RBI singles and Kendrick doubled in another run for a 6-0 lead. Kendrick circled the bases after his shot to center got lodged under the wall, but third base umpire Laz Diaz jogged out and ruled it a double.Chase Utley's sacrifice fly in the sixth broke Santana's bid for his second shutout of the season. The run wasn't earned because Jimmy Rollins scored after reaching on first baseman Kotchman's fielding error.Utley, who came in leading the majors with 22 homers, was 0-for-3, extending his hitless streak to 23 at-bats."It might be time to give him a rest," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Utley, who has started every game.
Anderson moved into a tie with Tim Salmon for first on the Angels' career list in runs at 986. ... Gary Matthews Jr. was the odd man out in a crowded outfield as the Angels played their first game in an NL park this season and couldn't use a DH. Matthews has started 55 games in the OF and 13 as DH. ... Guerrero has an 11-game hitting streak. ... The Angels are 31-4 when scoring first. ... The Phillies haven't had a four-game losing streak. ... Kotchman made two errors after having none all season.