Santana throws 4-hitter, drives in 2 runs in Twins’ 5-2 win

Published 7:31 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

SAN DIEGO — The slumping Minnesota Twins desperately needed a big game from Ervin Santana, who was more than happy to oblige.

Santana threw a four-hitter for his major league-best fifth complete game and hit a two-run single to lead the Twins to a 5-2 victory against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

The Twins won for just the second time in nine games. They went 2-6 on a trip through Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego.

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“He was the starter, the middle man, the setup man, the closer and a clutch hitter,” manager Paul Molitor said. “It was a pretty good day for him and us.”

Santana (12-7) retired his first 10 batters. He struck out nine and walked one in his 21st career complete game.

Complete games are old school these days.

“That’s why every time I get a chance I want it because they’re not coming often,” the 34-year-old Santana said. “Every time you’re close to it you take advantage and you get it. It means a lot to me.”

The Twins traded All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington on Monday, so Santana’s nine innings were big.

Molitor checked with Santana after the eighth.

“He asked me how I feel and I said, ‘I want the ninth,’ “ the pitcher said. “He said, ‘OK, it’s all yours.’ “

Said Molitor: “He wanted the ball, which is what you want to hear. I trust him as much as anybody.

“My thought was, given the cushion, I wanted to make sure he felt OK,” Molitor said. “It’s a little different given the circumstance that we are kind of toying with who is going finish games. The fact that he had a three-run lead and he still had good stuff, I wanted to make sure he was OK to go back out there.”

Santana appreciated his manager’s confidence.

“It means durability. It means you throw a lot of strikes and you do your job,” Santana said.

Santana didn’t allow a baserunner until Cory Spangenberg singled to right with one out in the fourth. Jose Pirela followed with a homer to center to pull the Padres to 4-2. It was Pirela’s fifth.

“Everything was good,” Santana said. “First-pitch strikes. They’re very aggressive. Just get the ball down for the most part.”