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Escobar, Cabrera lift Angels over Royals

Sep 20, 2006 - 2:25 PM KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim can move on to bigger challenges.

Kelvim Escobar pitched seven scoreless innings and Orlando Cabrera drove in all three runs as the Angels defeated the Kansas City Royals, 3-0, to sweep a two-game series.

The Angels, who remained 6 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West Division, start a crucial three-game series against the A's in Oakland on Friday.

"It would be great if we could win 10 games and go to the playoffs," Cabrera said. "We have to try to get a 'W' every day. There's nothing you can do but win every day and not think about them."

"We need to win," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's the point of the season we're at right now. It's no sense in looking at anything. No sense to worry about where we are playing or who we are playing. There's no room for anything but good baseball."

Oakland and the Angels finish the season with a four-game series in Anaheim.

"We have to make a statement and we have to win," Escobar said. "It is do-or-die. If they beat us, I don't think we have a chance. You have to be realistic. We have to win as many games as we can."

Escobar (11-13) allowed four hits while striking out five and walking one. In his last five starts, Escobar is 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA, despite leaving his previous start after four innings due to a sore left knee.

"The knee was good enough to pitch seven innings," Escobar said. "I felt a little sore but I could deal with it. I had good fastball command. Only one inning I lost my release point a little bit. Other than that I was able to pitch in the strike zone and change speeds."

"They've got a good team, good pitching," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "The guy yesterday was good and Escobar was outstanding tonight."

The Royals announced after that game that Bell will be taking a leave of absence for medical reasons. A growth was discovered near Bell's left tonsil during a routine examination on Wednesday.

The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the third when Adam Kennedy doubled off Odalis Perez and later scored on Cabrera's deep sacrifice fly to right. Cabrera added a two-run double in the ninth to give Anaheim a 3-0 lead.

"The most important thing for me was Escobar," Cabrera said. "He was great. He kept the ball down and he was in a zone. He threw a lot of strikes. He did a great job tonight."

Perez (2-4) took the loss despite allowing only one run and six hits in seven innings.

"That's the way it is sometimes," Perez said. "The most important thing for me is to finish strong and to keep building my strength. I gave my team a chance to win. Today, I did my job but things happen. I got the loss but I'll take it because it was a good effort."

Francisco Rodriguez worked around a walk and a hit in the ninth for his major league-leading 44th save.

"The bullpen has been there all year for us and they were here again for us tonight," Scioscia said.

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