for this game

Angels win again, prevent Athletics from clinching

Sep 24, 2006 - 10:34 PM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim know the Oakland Athletics are on the verge of clinching the American League West Division title. They just don't want to see it in person.

Ervin Santana allowed two hits over eight strong innings and Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer as the Angels kept alive their slim postseason hopes with a 7-1 victory over the Athletics.

Maicer Izturis had a two-run triple for the Angels (84-71), who took the last two games of the three-game series to prevent a home celebration by the Athletics (90-65), who still hold a six-game lead with seven to play.

"It's disappointing we didn't get it done at home," A's designated hitter Frank Thomas said. "It would have been great to do it at home against them, but we still have a week and we'll get it done. They played great baseball. That's how you fight when you're facing elimination."

Any combination of losses by Anaheim and wins by Oakland totaling two will give the Athletics their third division title in five years. The Angels host Texas for three games and the Athletics visit Seattle for three before the teams play four games in Anaheim to close the season.

"We can't lose focus," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've played our best baseball in the last 60 games and we need to keep playing good baseball. There is no margin for error right now. We have to keep our focus going into the next series, and hopefully that next series will mean something."

"You always want to get it done in front of the fans," Oakland right fielder Milton Bradley said. "We lost the game today, but we didn't lost our intensity. We still have seven ballgames to get it done and we have a real good chance."

After winning Friday's series opener, the A's needed a win Saturday or Sunday to wrap up matters. But they absorbed a 6-2 loss Saturday and were beaten again Sunday as Santana (15-8) was in total control.

"I didn't worry about whether they were going to celebrate or not," Santana said. "I wasn't thinking about pitching my game and doing my best. I came into today knowing that I just had to do my job and not worry about anything else."

The righthander allowed just Eric Chavez's single through five innings before Marco Scutaro led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a groundout by Mark Kotsay that spoiled the shutout bid.

By that time, Santana had a 6-0 lead. He walked two and struck out two, throwing 59 of 97 pitches for strikes, before J.C. Romero pitched the ninth.

"He was mixing his pitches well," Bradley said. "He was mixing the slider, the change, and he had the fastball going as well. For the most part, he was hitting his spots. He walked a couple of guys, but he was able to get the double play ball when he needed it."

The Angels roughed up starter Danny Haren (14-13), scoring three runs in both the third and sixth. He fell to 1-3 vs. Anaheim this season, allowing six runs and seven hits in six innings.

"Emotionally I was ready to go," Haren said. "I thought my stuff was there. I gave up a few runs early, but I felt like were still in the game. They got to me again in the sixth, and with the way Santana was pitching, it was pretty much over."

In the third, Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins had infield hits around a sacrifice and scored on the triple by Izturis, who came home on Orlando Cabrera's groundout.

"It was just meaningful for us to win," Figgins said. "That's our only concern, to keep winning. That's all we can control. We can't think about this series anymore, just about Texas (on Monday)."

In the sixth, Cabrera singled and Guerrero hit his 31st homer, making it 5-0. The Angels added a run later in the frame on Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly.

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