(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Angels find themselves mired in a four- game losing streak, but having Ervin Santana around for a matchup with the Oakland Athletics seems to give the club an excellent chance of ending that skid.
Santana seeks an 18th victory of the season and will attempt to build to his already excellent career numbers against Oakland when the standout hurler takes the mound for tonight's opener of a three-game series between the American League West rivals from Angel Stadium.
The Angels right-hander established a new career best for wins with a stellar performance against the playoff-bound Texas Rangers on Tuesday, firing a five- hit shutout and racking up eight strikeouts to improve his season ledger to 17-9. It's the fourth straight winning decision for Santana, and he's registered a 2.13 earned run average over that five-start span.
Santana has been even better when taking on the A's during his six-year tenure in the big leagues, with the 2008 AL All-Star having generated a 12-3 mark along with a sensational 1.80 ERA in 20 lifetime appearances (18 starts) against Oakland. He bested the Athletics once again earlier this month by allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings in a September 5 verdict at the Coliseum.
The native Dominican will be trying to get his team back on track after it suffered its fourth straight defeat on Sunday, when the Chicago White Sox scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to rally for a 4-3 triumph and a sweep of the three-game weekend set.
The Angels gave Weaver an early advantage by scoring three times in the bottom of the first, but managed just five hits the rest of the way and stranded seven baserunners for the game.
"We didn't execute on the offensive side," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We had a lot of young guys out there going through some growing pains."
Torii Hunter and Hank Conger both had two hits and an RBI for Anaheim, which fell to 75-80 overall and is danger of its first losing campaign since 2003, with Bobby Abreu delivering a run-scoring double during the first-inning outburst.
Weaver (13-12) struck out nine without a walk over 6 2/3 innings, but was reached for all four runs (three earned) to receive the loss.
The A's have been in a rut of their own at the moment, having dropped the final three tests of their four-game home set with the AL West champion Rangers. Texas flexed its offensive muscles in Sunday's finale, pounding out 22 hits and belting four homers in a 16-9 shellacking at the Coliseum.
Oakland ace Trevor Cahill (17-8) was battered for seven runs and 12 hits over the first four innings, with the 2010 All-Star serving up two of Texas' four long balls on the day.
"Things just didn't go real well," said Cahill afterward. "They hit some good pitches. I couldn't get some of those balls to go right to guys and I made some mistakes and they hurt me. Just not an overall good day at the yard."
The Athletics trailed 9-1 before scoring six times in the bottom of the eighth inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Steven Tolleson, to get back in it. However, Texas answered with seven runs in the top of the ninth to put the game back out of reach.
The A's will turn to Brett Anderson tonight in hopes of ending their current slide. Judging by how the second-year big leaguer has fared recently, he should give his team a chance to break out.
Anderson is 3-0 over his last four starts and has yielded only five runs in a combined 28 innings during that strong stretch. The young lefty did not get a decision in his latest assignment, but still limited the White Sox to one run and six hits through 6 2/3 innings on Wednesday.
Prior to that start, Anderson allowed just one run and four hits in 6 2/3 frames to hand AL Central champ Minnesota a loss in Minneapolis on September 17.
The 22-year-old has yet to face the Angels this season, but went 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA in three encounters with Anaheim as a rookie in 2009. Anderson is just 2-4 in eight road starts this year, despite having recorded a solid 3.10 ERA in those games.
These divisional foes have split 16 meetings so far this season, but Oakland has won four of the last five clashes. The Athletics have lost four of six games to the Angels held at the Big A in 2010, however.