By GREG BEACHAM, Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ervin Santana took a perfect game into the seventh inning before finishing with a one-hitter, and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the Los Angeles Angels' 2-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
Santana (4-7) bounced back from several rough outings by retiring Arizona's first 20 hitters before Justin Upton's two-out single to center in the seventh.
The Dominican right-hander then retired the next five Diamondbacks before pinch-hitter Miguel Montero drew a four-pitch walk in the ninth, but Santana finished up his first complete game of the season with two fly balls.
Joe Saunders (4-5) allowed eight hits in six innings while facing the Angels for the first time since they traded him to Arizona in 2010. Saunders mostly kept pace with Santana, his longtime teammate, after a rough first inning, but the Diamondbacks were shut out for the third time in 11 games.
Staked to a lead by Trumbo's 15th homer in the first, Santana had allowed nothing even close to a hit before Upton's clean single back up the middle. The Angel Stadium crowd of 42,483 responded with a standing ovation for a pitcher who bounced back from a lousy four-game stretch with a start that nearly equaled his no-hitter last July 27 in Cleveland.
With the 18th one-hitter in club history, Santana joined Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter and a one-hitter for the Angels.
Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter had three hits apiece for the Angels, who won for the sixth time in eight games despite stranding 10 runners and failing to score after the first inning. Their 17th victory in 23 games moves them back to a season-best four games over .500.
Just three days after San Francisco's Matt Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in major league history, Santana got within seven batters of the sixth no-hitter and third perfect game in a season that isn't even half over yet. The Angels already had their first no-hitter in 21 years when Jered Weaver blanked Minnesota on May 2.
Santana was back in top form after a rough four-start stretch in which he allowed 27 hits and 23 runs in just 20 1-3 innings. The veteran has struggled with fastball control throughout the season, continuously falling behind hitters, but he had early count control against the Diamondbacks to go with his nasty breaking pitches.
Arizona mostly foundered against Santana. Henry Blanco hit a high fly to the left-field warning track to end the third, and Mike Trout easily tracked down Aaron Hill's tailing fly to center to end the fifth.
Santana's performance was a surprise from a veteran who has struggled for consistency and control so far this season. He has also shown a dismaying propensity for giving up homers, allowing 18 in his first 13 starts.
Santana teamed up with John Hester, the seldom-used catcher only in the majors because of injuries to Chris Iannetta and Bobby Wilson.
Trumbo connected on a full-count curveball from Saunders, putting it into the bullpen behind the left-field wall. The sophomore slugger is having another outstanding season despite losing his rookie spot at first base to Albert Pujols, ranking among the AL leaders in batting average while producing stellar power numbers.
Pitching on his 31st birthday, Saunders settled down for a strong effort in his first start in Anaheim since the Angels traded their former first-round pick in 2010. Saunders started 115 games and earned 54 wins over parts of six seasons with the Angels before he left with three other players in a deal for right-hander Dan Haren, who also lost his first reunion start against Arizona on Friday night.
Saunders and Santana came up together through the Angels' farm system, both reaching the majors for the first time in 2005 and pitching in the same rotation for 4½ years. They even made the AL All-Star team together in 2008.
NOTES: Weaver will throw 30-40 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday as he moves closer to a return from the disabled list. Weaver felt great Saturday after throwing a simulated game Friday, likely indicating his return is imminent. Angels manager Mike Scioscia says the club has no timetable for Weaver or fellow injured Angels Scott Downs, OF Vernon Wells or Iannetta, who hopes to get clearance soon to begin a throwing program. ... Jerry Dipoto, the interim Arizona general manager who acquired Saunders, now runs the Angels. ... RHP Ian Kennedy takes the mound in Sunday's series finale against Angels youngster Garrett Richards.
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