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Athletics take another crack at clinching AL West

Sep 24, 2006 - 2:41 PM LA Angels (83-71) at Oakland (90-64) 4:05 pm EDT

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Oakland Athletics cannot think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in late September than clinching the American League West Division.

The Athletics try for the second straight day to wrap up their first division title in three years when they meet the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Sunday's finale of a three-game set.

Oakland won the division in 2002 and 2003 but Anaheim has taken the crown in each of the last two years. However, this season appears to belong to the A's, who lead the Angels by seven games with eight to play and have a magic number of two to clinch.

Anaheim stayed alive with a 6-2 victory Saturday behind three RBI from Juan Rivera and seven solid innings from John Lackey. The Angels have won seven of their last 10 road games, but it appears to be too little, too late.

The A's would love to wrap up the division in their final home game of the year. After Sunday, they travel to Seattle for three games before closing out the regular season with four contests in Anaheim.

Oakland turns to Dan Haren (14-12, 4.01 ERA), who had won two straight starts and eight of his last 10 outings before taking a pounding Monday vs. Cleveland. He was charged with seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-2 loss.

Haren also was hit hard in his first two starts against the Angels this year. But he rebounded in the last meeting July 31, when he pitched an eight-hitter for his fifth career complete game, a 3-1 triumph.

The Angels hope to stay alive behind Ervin Santana (14-8, 4.57), who is just 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in four starts this month. The Dominican righthander surrendered four runs in five innings last Sunday en route to an 8-1 defeat vs. Texas.

Santana is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA in six lifetime starts against Oakland.

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