Ervin Santana credits improved run support from his Los Angeles Angels teammates as one reason for his turnaround from a miserable start to the season, but his own performance also has a lot to do with it.
Santana seeks his third consecutive win Sunday when the Angels and San Diego Padres conclude their interleague series at Petco Park.
Santana (2-6, 4.36 ERA) has won back-to-back starts after losing his first six - part of a career-worst, nine-game losing streak that dated to last September.
He went 7 2-3 innings, struck out nine and gave up four hits in Tuesday's 4-0 win over Oakland. That outing came after Santana gave up two runs over 7 1-3 innings May 9 at Minnesota, where he snapped his skid thanks in part to six runs of support.
The Angels had scored zero runs for Santana in his previous five starts.
"Definitely, it's more easier when you've got run support," Santana said following Tuesday's win.
While that may be the case, the right-hander has also been pitching better, compiling a 2.10 ERA over his last four starts after posting a 7.23 ERA through his first four of 2012.
"Ervin has pitched much better than his numbers show,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's going to give us a good little spurt here. ... He's got a pretty even heartbeat. He doesn't get too high or too low, but there's a competitive mechanism inside him."
The Angels (18-23) will rely on Santana to help them win their first series at Petco Park. After prevailing 7-2 in Friday's opener, they couldn't get enough timely hits Saturday and lost 3-2.
Los Angeles was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, while the Padres (15-26) did just enough to win by going 2 for 10. Alexi Amarista doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning against his former club and Cameron Maybin had a pair of RBIs as San Diego ended a four-game skid to the Angels.
"I just want to keep doing my job, keep getting better, keep trying to get in scoring position, or if guys are in scoring position, then get them in," Amarista said through an interpreter.
The Padres haven't won consecutive games over the Angels since a four-game streak that ended July 17, 2000, at Qualcomm Stadium.
Anthony Bass (2-4, 2.87) will try to aid San Diego's cause by producing a second straight strong outing.
The right-hander outdueled Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday, matching his longest outing in 10 major league starts by going eight innings of a 6-1 road victory. He gave up a solo homer and four singles.
"Outstanding and with great efficiency," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "It's something we talked about, and it doesn't happen overnight. But I think he understands the value of attacking hitters. Now, we're seeing more of a pitcher, a guy changing speeds, moving the ball in and out."
Bass is set to make his first interleague start, while Santana is 4-1 with a 2.28 ERA in his last six matchups with NL opponents.
He won his only start against the Padres on June 17, 2006.