CHICAGO -- Prior to Saturday's game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that starter Ervin Santana needed to go as far into the game as he could in order to give the bullpen a little break.
Santana's previous start in Texas had been limited to 15 outs because Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher wanted Santana to narrow his focus to break through some recent struggles.
Santana wound up throwing six innings against the White Sox, allowed just three runs (two earned) and left the game with a 5-3 lead. The lead was quickly erased to start the seventh when LaTroy Hawkins gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis, giving Santana a no-decision in a game the Angels won in 10 innings, but Scioscia liked what he saw in the first six frames.
"We need that and we need more of that," he said. "It's going to be tough for us just to have the front of our rotation get it done. We need to have a chance to win every night we go out there, and that's a really good hitting lineup. They really score a lot of runs and he did a really good job against them. It's a step forward."
Scioscia said he opted not to send Santana back out for the seventh mainly because he wanted him to leave the game feeling good and having a lead.
"We needed him to pitch as long as he could, but he hasn't been out that long in a while," Scioscia said. "It's been awhile since he's been out over 100 pitches and he had gotten us to a point in the game where we had LaTroy, [Kevin Jepsen] and [Ernesto Frieri] lined up, so we wanted to just get him out and hopefully hold the lead and unfortunately we didn't do it."
Scuffling Kendrick comes through in clutch moment
CHICAGO -- There is only one American League second baseman hitting for a better average than Howie Kendrick's .283 right now, and it's Yankees perennial All-Star Robinson Cano.
Kendrick's batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs is another story. Heading into Saturday night's game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, his average was a paltry .191 in 47 at-bats.
That's why his two-out single in the 10th inning to plate the eventual winning run loomed so large for him and the Angels -- especially coming off hard-throwing left-hander Matt Thornton.
"You just want to hit the ball hard there and get a pitch over the plate," Kendrick said. "He happened to leave the ball out over the plate there and I put a swing on it. I wasn't going up trying to hit a gap or anything. I was just trying to get a hit."
Earlier in the game, Kendrick hit into a double play with nobody out and runners on first and second to effectively kill a potential rally, which is also something he's done more of than he'd like this season.
"It [stinks], but at the same time that's going to happen over the course of a season," Kendrick said. "I'm not trying to go up there and hit into a double play, but it just seems like I've done it a few times this year. At the same time, I'm not worried about doing it. I'm going up there trying to drive the ball. If the game's close or something like that, you just think about your situation. Maybe you give yourself up sometimes, whether that's via the bunt or whatever, but at the same time you're trying to drive guys in."
Aybar targeting a Monday night return
CHICAGO -- Everything still appears good to go for Angels shortstop Erick Aybar to return from the disabled list on Monday in Oakland.
Aybar has been testing his right big toe, doing running and cutting drills while also taking ground balls at U.S. Cellular Field and says there's no lingering pain.
"Every day it's better and better," said Aybar, who'd been scuffling at the plate prior to breaking the toe on a foul ball on July 21 against Texas. "I've been doing some running the past three days and it feels good, so we'll see tomorrow. I want to help my team and continue to help them win every day."
Aybar is one of three Angels regulars currently working their way back from the disabled list. Reliever Jordan Walden (biceps tendinitis) played long toss all weekend here in his throwing regimen and hopes to get back on the mound for a bullpen session Monday, while left-handed reliever Scott Downs (shoulder strain) plans to start his throwing regimen off flat ground.
How important is it for the Angels to get everybody back for the stretch run in a tight American League West race with Oakland and first-place Texas?
"It's everything," Aybar said. "You have to be 100 percent, so you do everything you can [to get healthy]. We're not looking at the Rangers, though. We just look at who we're playing today and just try to win as many games as we can. That's the key right now, and we'll see."
Scioscia says Angels need Wells to contribute
CHICAGO -- Vernon Wells got another chance to break through on Saturday, but again the results weren't good.
Wells, who missed 55 games with a right thumb injury, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is now 0-for-15 with four strikeouts in the four games he's played since returning to a diminished role on the team.
"I think he's jumping at the ball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's working on some things. You can see his load is kind of hard and I think it's affecting some of his rhythm and his timing. He's working hard on it. There's a lot of things he's working on. Hopefully he's going to find something that's going to let him contribute what he can do and what we need."
What the Angels need, at this point, is a potent bat off the bench and somebody who can spell starting outfielders Torii Hunter -- whom Wells played in place of on Saturday -- and Mark Trumbo.
"Hopefully as he gets into games and gets his opportunities, you'll start to see him contributing," Scioscia said. "You might not find a groove, but you have to have better at-bats. You might not get locked in, but it doesn't mean you're not going to contribute. Vernon should be able to go up there and be able to be on pitches and hit the ball hard with even some of the limited playing time. He has to get comfortable with that and hopefully we'll start to see it."
Wells said on Friday that he's accepted his new role, but that it's still taking some time to get used to regularly.
"You have a greater appreciation for guys who don't get to play every day," Wells said. "It's a different role, for sure. It's a different way of preparing yourself. Every day is an adjustment, for sure."
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.