Santana dazzles on mound, ties offensive mark

Righty goes distance vs. Padres, ties MLB record for most RBIs by pitcher in Interleague Play

Santana dazzles on mound, ties offensive mark

SAN DIEGO -- With the Twins desperate for a win and looking for offense after getting shut out by the Padres on Tuesday, veteran right-hander Ervin Santana did it all against San Diego on Wednesday.

Santana came through with a two-run single with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning before delivering his Major League-best fifth complete game to lead the Twins to a 5-2 win at Petco Park. The right-hander also tied an Interleague single-season record for a pitcher with five RBIs this year.

Santana's two-run single

"You look for your guys with track records and experience to step up when they can and he got the chance today," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He was the starter, he was the middle man, he was the setup man, he was our closer and our clutch hitter. So a pretty good day for him and us."

Molitor on Santana's outing

Santana, who gave up two runs on four hits and a walk with nine strikeouts, helped the Twins end a three-game skid. It allowed Minnesota to leave California on a positive note after going 2-6 on its West Coast trip.

"This road trip was not good for us so for me to come out and pitch like that today means a lot," Santana said. "It helps our bullpen. Now we can go back home and do the little things and not try to do too much. Just play baseball."

Santana helped spark a four-ran rally, jumping on a first-pitch 94-mph fastball from Luis Perdomo and placing it perfectly down the first-base line out of the reach of Wil Myers to plate two runs. Eduardo Escobar later connected on a two-run single that scored Santana from second.

Escobar's two-run single

"We've been struggling with men in scoring position so I told him as he walked up, 'Just like San Francisco,'" Molitor said. "He had a bases-clearing double [in San Francisco], too. He's obviously not intimidated to hit. He's not that polished but he's not afraid to swing and he put it in the right spot."

The two-run single gave Santana five RBIs this season, which ties the record for the most by a pitcher in Interleague Play in a single season. It's the most ever by an American League hurler in Interleague action, and is tied for the MLB record with Dan Haren (Arizona, 2011) and Woody Williams (St. Louis, 2003). The five RBIs are also the most by a Twins pitcher since Bert Blyleven had six in 1972, which was the year before the designated hitter was introduced in '73.

Santana has found a way to impact the game offensively in all three of his Interleague road starts, going 1-for-4 with three RBIs against the Giants on June 9 and scoring two runs against the Dodgers on July 26. It was the first time a Twins pitcher had scored twice in a game since Blyleven did it on May 26, 1972, against Texas.

"First-pitch fastball swinging just like in San Francisco," Santana said of his strategy. "Right field is open. Going the other way, anything can happen."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.