Tampa Bay tagged the righty for a career-high 14 hits during his six innings, a team high for pitchers this season and just one off of the club mark set by Paul Hartzell in 1976.
"They didn't miss a lot of his pitches tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's obviously not where Ervin needs to be. We've tried a lot of different things, and we'll see how it plays out."
The majority of damage during the Angels' 8-3 loss came in a five-run fifth inning. Santana crumbled during the frame as the Rays batted around and got him for four singles, a double and two walks. He hit the showers after six innings and 108 pitches, allowing seven runs and four walks alongside four punchouts.
It was just the second game in 11 tries that the Angels have lost to the Rays.
Santana maintained afterward that he didn't feel as if anything was wrong mechanically.
"I don't know what's wrong ... I just missed a couple of pitches," he said.
It's been a bit of a disturbing trend lately by Santana, who's had dropped four straight decisions while posting an 11.64 ERA in the process coming into Tuesday's game. Winless since June 9 (a span of six starts), Santana has seen his ERA jump from 5.04 to 6.22 over that time, and Tuesday marked his career-high fifth straight loss.
Still, the 24-year-old maintained a positive, proud attitude.
"To me, everything is fine," he said. "I just have to keep pitching and try to win."
But everything may not be fine, according to Scioscia, who was hesitant to say whether Santana would make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Twins.
"We're going to look at some stuff," Scioscia said. "We've done a lot of stuff with Ervin, we've made some adjustments in his bullpen [session] ... There's some options we might look at to move forward, but we'll wait and evaluate some things and look at some video to see what we're going to do [about Sunday]."
Scioscia mentioned how tough it is to see Santana, who won 16 games in 2006, pitching like this, knowing he can do much better.
"We've tried everything from letting him work out himself, to see if he can get a rhythm, to bringing the catchers into the scenario, to making adjustments with how he warms up," Scioscia said.
Santana was sharp early and had good movement on his fastball, which has been lacking a little lately. He held firm for the first two innings and kept the Rays off of the board, until they jumped him for two runs in the third. He fought back to toss a hitless fourth, but then came the five-run fifth that doomed the Angels, who had tied things up to 2 at that point.
Outside of their offense during the fifth frame, the Angels were baffled by Rays starter James Shields. Through four innings, he'd faced just one batter over the minimum, and by the time he left in the seventh, he'd scattered just seven hits. To the Angels' credit though, three of those hits went for extra bases -- doubles from third baseman Chone Figgins, catcher Jose Molina and second baseman Maicer Izturis.
The Angels hit just 2-for-17 (.118) with runners in scoring position during the game.
"Shields pitched a good game for them," Scioscia said. "This guy might be their best pitcher right now. He's shut down some good clubs. We couldn't get some hits. Some of our guys right now are a little bit out of sync at the plate, and obviously we have to rediscover that continuity."
Other than Figgins, who went 3-for-4 with his 25th stolen base in the fifth, and Molina, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, the rest of the lineup went down with a whimper. The Halos' Nos. 3-4-5 hitters collected just one hit in 12 at-bats.
It certainly didn't help the Angels' cause to commit a fielding error in the second inning and a throwing error in the third. Figgins missed a catch that allowed Dioner Navarro to reach second on a single, and Molina had an errant throw on a Carl Crawford steal of second base that skipped into the outfield allowing Crawford to scamper to third.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.