CLEVELAND – Ervin Santana's short day of work turned into a long afternoon for his teammates.
Santana allowed eight runs and retired only four batters in the Angels' 12-3 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday in a game that began with a temperature of 92 degrees.
"Obviously, a rough outing," manager Mike Scioscia said after the right-hander lasted only 1 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since 2009.
Santana (4-9) fell to 1-8 against the Indians. His only win came last season on July 27 when he pitched a no-hitter at Progressive Field. Any chance of a repeat ended on Michael Brantley's three-run homer in the first, an inning in which Santana threw 32 pitches.
The Angels scored a run in the second, but any chance of staying in the game ended when the Indians scored six times in the bottom of the inning. Shin-Soo Choo's run-scoring double, Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI groundout and Jason Kipnis' run-scoring single through a drawn-in infield put the Angels in a 6-1 deficit.
Santana was finally removed after Travis Hafner's single. Hisanori Takahashi retired Brantley, but gave up a three-run homer to Casey Kotchman. Santana allowed six hits and three walks with no strikeouts.
"I was behind in the count most every batter and that's what happened," he said.
Santana, a mainstay in the Angels rotation the last three seasons, has been a puzzle for most of 2012. He's 2-3 with a 7.83 ERA in his last eight starts in which his ERA has ballooned from 4.22 to 5.75 ERA.
"We need Ervin to pick it up," Scioscia said. "He's a guy we're counting on in our rotation. We've got to get him back on that beam."
Santana's rocky outing marked the second straight day Scioscia had to go to his bullpen early. Dan Haren allowed seven runs in 4 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 9-5 loss. Scioscia used four relievers in 6 2-3 innings Wednesday.
After taking the series opener Monday, the Angels had won 16 of their last 19 road games. That hot stretch came to a temporary halt, but the team's starting pitching is of more immediate concern. Other than Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, who were both chosen for the All-Star team, the rotation is showing some cracks.
Haren admitted Tuesday that he's been pitching with a sore lower back all season. He will be examined by doctors Thursday in Los Angeles and a trip to the disabled list seems to be a strong possibility. Haren is scheduled to start Sunday, but Scioscia said no decision will be made until after the pitcher is examined.
Unlike Haren, Santana appears to be healthy.
"There's no physical injury," Scioscia said. "He warmed up great. He looked good for the first couple of hitters and then back-to-back walks and then the home run."
Right-hander Jerome Williams is on a minor-league rehab assignment after suffering a suspected asthma attack in a start against San Francisco on June 18. He was struck on the right forearm by a line drive Sunday while pitching for Triple-A Salt Lake City. The Angels aren't sure when he will be ready to rejoin the team.
"There's no doubt you're always concerned about the rotation," Scioscia said. "It's the last thing you think about when you're going to bed and the first thing you think about waking up."
Derek Lowe (8-6) won for the first time in more than a month. He gave up three runs and 11 hits in six innings for his first win in six starts since June 1. The 39-year-old right-hander was 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in five outings between victories.
The Angels loaded the bases with nobody out in the second, but scored only one run on Maicer Izturis' fielder's choice. Los Angeles scored twice in the sixth on Alberto Callaspo's sacrifice fly and Izturis' single.
Scioscia also used the large deficit to get some of his regulars a few innings off their feet. Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter and Erick Aybar were all removed in the sixth inning.
Pujols went 3 for 9 with a homer in the three games, but was involved in some unusual plays. He went 1 for 3 against Lowe, but was out trying to stretch a single to a double in the third, trailing by eight runs. He hustled out of the batter's box, but was out by yards at second on a throw from Johnny Damon — not known for a strong throwing arm.
Later, Pujols hit a fly ball that drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd. The ball died in the humid air and was caught by Damon on the warning track as Pujols stood with head cocked, hands on hips, staring in disbelief at the outfield.
Tuesday night, Pujols made a crucial throwing error and on Monday night, he over-ran second base on a wild pitch and was thrown out.
Rookie outfielder Mike Trout was 2 for 4 and raised his batting average to .343, tops in the AL. Mark Trumbo was 3 for 4 after going hitless in his first seven at-bats in the series.
The Indians totaled 21 runs in two wins after being shut out 3-0 in the series opener.
"This was a very good series against a very good ballclub," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It was great to see us bounce back after that first game."
NOTES: RHP David Carpenter allowed two hits in three scoreless innings. ... OF Vernon Wells, out since having a torn right thumb ligament surgically repaired May 21 will begin hitting drills next week. Wells has been running and throwing. ... Izturis stole second base in the second inning and is 11 for 11 for the season. ... The Angels open a four-game series at home against Baltimore on Thursday. Garrett Richards faces Jake Arrieta.