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Early deficit derails Angels, Santana

Early deficit derails Angels, Santana

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ANAHEIM -- Two days ago, there was an Angels team that had won 15 of its previous 19 games while catapulting itself, briefly, into first place over a 14-game road trip.

What has become of it since?

Tuesday night's 7-1 loss to the Brewers saw the wind knocked out of the Angels before the game was one-third through, as Ervin Santana put the offense in an early crater. It was the same feeling Joe Saunders' outing imparted on Monday night.

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"It seemed like we're a little dead," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "On the road trip you play well, then you come home, you just relax a little bit and guys are with their families and sleeping in their beds and you kind of lose that dog that's supposed to be in you. Got to come back with that dog, man. We had the dog that whole road trip, and we put the dog in the dog house when we got here."

"I guess we have to keep playing with the gray uniform," Santana said.

Looming now, too, is potential long-term worry. An MRI Tuesday on shortstop Erick Aybar's left knee showed left meniscal damage, the results of which were announced to the media during the game. He will be re-evaluated Friday.

Surgery is a word manager Mike Scioscia said he had not heard from team orthopedist Lewis Yocum.

"It's very tough," Santana said of losing Aybar, who was batting .382 in June. "It's going to be a little difficult for us."

Santana was remarkably efficient, for two batters. It took three pitches for him to set down the game's first two hitters before it took another 54 for him to get through the next four outs. Two runs came home in the first on a Prince Fielder home run, and another four came around in the second for a 6-0 Brewers lead that stood up until the eighth, when the teams traded a run each.

Corey Hart's bases-clearing double was the big blow of the second. That came after Santana allowed four straight hits to start the inning. Mike Napoli made his sixth error of the season later in the second, on a catcher's interference call with an 0-2 count, but it did not lead to a run.

"I just got the first two outs and then after that I think I just got behind in the count," Santana said. "When I get to two strikes and I try to finish him off with a slider it's just not working. There's nothing you can do."

Santana allowed a season-high six runs and tied a season high with 10 hits. His five innings matched a season low -- his last start in Oakland. He hadn't lost two consecutive starts since his first two of the season.

Five times in the first two innings Santana opened at-bats with two straight balls. Two of those counts also ran to 3-0.

For a second straight game, the Angels' lineup was also bested by a less-than-overwhelming pitcher. Maicer Izturis' RBI double with one out in the eighth inning drove Brewers starter Dave Bush to the dugout, once he had already gone the deepest into a game he had all season. Bush entered with a 5.06 ERA and hadn't recorded an out in the seventh inning since April. He faced just two batters over the minimum from the second to the seventh.

"All [Bush was] doing is hitting the spots and keeping you off-balance," said Hunter, who chuckled a bit when asked what made Bush so effective. "We're hitting the ball off the end of the bat, we're hitting the ball off the handle, we're not scoring anything. Tomorrow we need to come with a little more energy."

Over the first two games of the series, the Angels have been outscored, 19-3.

There were a few fruitless opportunities against Bush. Howard Kendrick doubled to right-center with one out in the first but was stranded after moving to third with two outs. Juan Rivera started the fifth inning with a single that was erased by Kevin Frandsen's double-play grounder on the next pitch.

"I kind of wore down the last couple innings and the ball started getting up," Bush said. "But I was still throwing strikes. It was nice to pitch with a lead like that. It gave me the luxury of throwing a lot of strikes early and letting them put it in play."

Hunter singled and moved to second base on a throwing error to start the seventh, then got caught stealing -- with a six-run deficit.

"I think Torii was a little frustrated and was just trying to make something happen," Scioscia said. "He's sitting there looking at our offense really not getting much going. Just got a little over-aggressive."

"Just trying to bring some energy to the ballclub, keep playing hard," Hunter said. "I thought [Bush] was pretty slow to the plate but an accurate throw, good throw, and got me."

Only Frandsen, 2-for-3, had multiple hits. Brandon Wood, activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, went 0-for-3 in his first game since May 23.

"We just fell into a little bit of a funk offensively, it's hurt us," Scioscia said. "And on the mound those guys have a lineup in the middle that can certainly let you know if you're missing your spots. They let us know yesterday with Joe and tonight with Ervin."

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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