Angels 7, Athletics 1

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Milton Bradley thinks all the talk about clinching might have affected the Oakland Athletics, who missed their final chance to wrap up the AL West at home.

Ervin Santana pitched eight strong innings, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Angels kept Oakland from winning the division for the second straight day with a 7-1 victory Sunday.

“I think a lot of the questions being asked about where do you want to clinch and the celebration is getting in some people’s heads,” Bradley said. “Guys take it for granted we’re just going to get it done.”

Maicer Izturis hit a two-run triple, Adam Kennedy added a sacrifice fly and Orlando Cabrera and Howie Kendrick also drove in runs as the A’s saw their lead in the AL West trimmed to six games.

“We still have it right in front of us,” A’s manager Ken Macha said.

Oakland’s magic number remained at two to wrap up the club’s first division title since 2003. The A’s watched the Angels clinch the division on their home field the past two seasons.

Now, Oakland will try to win it against the Mariners starting Monday at Safeco Field. The A’s have won 15 straight against Seattle.

“That makes it tougher,” said Frank Thomas, who is 0-for-16 over his last four games and was hitless in 13 at-bats this series. “We’ve got a whole week to win a couple of ballgames. I like our chances.”

Most of the A’s wanted to clinch at home, though third baseman Eric Chavez joked that it would be fitting to do it on the Angels’ home field in the final days—not that he truly wants it to be that close at the end.

And to think the A’s were going to lift the clubhouse alcohol ban for a day to celebrate with champagne. The club has had a dry clubhouse for about three months since starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza’s arrest on suspicion of drunk driving in June.

Loaiza takes the ball Monday for the A’s, who gave starter Dan Haren little chance Sunday with only two hits and managed only six total in the two losses this series.

“Say what you want about Haren—we got two hits,” Macha said.

Now, the Angels must hope to pull off an improbable comeback in the division race. They were eliminated from wild-card contention after the Minnesota Twins’ 6-3 win at Baltimore earlier Sunday.

Santana (15-8) followed John Lackey’s clutch performance a day earlier to end a two-start winless stretch with his second victory in four outings. He avenged an earlier loss to Oakland, too, by allowing two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

“I’m just going to do my job and not worry about if they celebrate or not,” Santana said.

Santana was 3-0 against the A’s last season and won his first start this year before losing July 31 despite eight solid innings. He is 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA in seven career starts versus Oakland.

“He didn’t miss a spot,” Bradley said.

Izturis tripled in the third to give the Angels the lead, and Cabrera followed with an RBI groundout to make it 3-0.

The Angels already delayed things for Oakland with a 6-2 win Saturday to snap the A’s four-game winning streak. The teams also play in the final four games of the season in Anaheim.

“It’s meaningful for us to win,” Angels center fielder Chone Figgins said. “That’s all we can control. We still have to think about tomorrow.”

Haren (14-13), trying for his career-best 15th win, lost his second straight start after a 7-2 defeat to Cleveland last Monday. He never looked sharp in allowing six runs and seven hits in six innings.

After Guerrero’s two-out single in the third, Haren retired the next seven batters in order before Orlando Cabrera’s single starting the sixth. Guerrero followed with his 31st homer, a deep shot to center. It was No. 336 of his career, tying him with Joe Adcock for 84th place all-time.

Izturis reached on first baseman Nick Swisher’s fielding error leading off the game, but Izturis was caught stealing for the third out.

Notes

Chone Figgins stole his 50th base in the seventh but got thrown out at home moments later. Figgins joins the Mets’ Jose Reyes and Chicago’s Juan Pierre as the only players with 50 or more stolen bases in each of the last two seasons. … Los Angeles leads the season series 8-7. … Oakland finished its final homestand 7-3. … Injured Angels ace Bartolo Colon, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, will return from Arizona, where he has been rehabbing a partially torn rotator cuff, to Southern California in the coming days to be examined by team orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum. … The A’s sold out for the third straight game and 13th time overall. Oakland drew 1,976,625 fans this season.

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