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ANGELS AND A'S ARE EVEN ANGELS 3, OAKLAND 0.

Byline: Joe Haakenson Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Final score from Angel Stadium: Angels 6, Oakland A's 3.

No, that wasn't the score of Thursday night's game, it was the tally of all three games in the series, capped by Angels right-hander Ervin Santana's gem in a 3-0 shutout in front of 41,633.

The Angels and A's have had the best starting pitching in the American League this season, statistically speaking, and the past three nights showed it was no fluke. The A's won the first game 2-1, followed by 2-1 and 3-0 Angels victories.

Following outstanding performances by Bartolo Colon and John Lackey, Santana topped them both with 8 1/3 shutout innings, his bid for a complete-game shutout foiled when manager Mike Scioscia took him out after Eric Chavez's single with one out in the ninth.

Santana had made 113 pitches, a total he has exceeded this season only in a five-hit shutout of the Chicago White Sox on May 23.

Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who pitched in all three games of the series, got the final two outs for his 32nd save.

The victory was No. 500 in Scioscia's managerial career, second on the Angels' all-time list behind Bill Rigney (625). More important, the victory moved the Angels into a tie with the A's for the American League League West lead - and into a tie with the Yankees for the wild-card lead - with 29 games remaining.

After giving up a leadoff double to Mark Ellis to begin the game, Santana retired 20 of the next 21 batters before Jay Payton's two-out single in the seventh. In all, he gave up six hits and did not walk a batter, continually getting ahead in the count.

``From the start of the game warming up, it looked like he had that look, that he was going to go after guys and throw strikes,'' said Angels third baseman Robb Quinlan, whose solo homer in the fourth inning gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. ``He pitched great.''

Santana took a three-hit shutout into the eighth and then found his first trouble of the night.

Nick Swisher doubled, and Adam Melhuse's single put runners on first and third with one out. After a visit from pitching coach Bud Black, Santana (8-6) got Ellis to hit a chopper up the middle that shortstop Orlando Cabrera turned into a 6-3 double play.

``He pounded the strike zone and worked quickly,'' Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said. ``It's a defensive player's dream. He went after hitters and didn't waste time. He and (catcher) Bengie (Molina) were on the same page all night long.''

The A's are a team known for their patience at the plate, and Santana was aware of it.

``I know that,'' Santana said. ``Because in the minor leagues they do that, too.''

Santana began the season at Double-A Arkansas, but with performances like Thursday's, he isn't going back down, even with Kelvim Escobar nearly ready to return to the roster.

Santana's performance came one start after he was shelled for seven runs and 10 hits against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which provoked questions that Santana might be tipping his pitches. The A's hitters could find no such clues in Santana's delivery.

``I don't think there was any doubt he would bounce back, if you look at his history,'' Scioscia said. ``He has bounced back and had four or five outstanding starts.''

A's starter Joe Kennedy went into the game 0-6 with a 6.81 ERA in eight career appearances against the Angels, who have been struggling at the plate. Kennedy (3-1) gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings took the loss.

The Angels could not have asked for better chances to score early in the game. In the first and third innings, they put runners on first and third with one out and Vladimir Guerrero up. But the 2004 AL MVP popped out in the first and lined out in the third, failing to get the runner at third home both times.

The Angels didn't come away empty in the third inning. Molina followed Guerrero's lineout with a two-out RBI single that provided a 1-0 lead. Quinlan's homer doubled the advantage.

Meanwhile, Santana breezed. The only A's hitter to reach base through six innings was Ellis, who doubled in the first and singled in the third. Ellis was sacrificed to third with one out in the first, but the A's couldn't get him home.

After Ellis' single in the third, Santana retired the next 12 hitters in a row.

The Angels added an insurance run in the eighth after Guerrero and Darin Erstad pulled off a double steal. Catcher Jason Kendall's throw to third base to get Guerrero instead hit Guerrero in the hand and the ball deflected into shallow left field. Guerrero scored on the play, despite Kendall's argument that Quinlan interfered on the throw.

Joe Haakenson, (626) 962-8811

joe.haakenson(at)sgvn.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, 5 boxes

Photo:

(1 -- color) Ervin Santana surrenders six hits in 8 1/3 shutout innings, retiring 20 of 21 batters from the second to seventh inning, as the Angels capture two games in a three-game series to pull even in the AL West and wild-card races.

(2) Robb Quinlan is greeted in the dugout by Darin Erstad (17) after clubbing a fourth-inning homer to give the Angels a two-run advantage.

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

Box:

(1) SEATTLE AT ANGELS

- Joe Haakenson

(2) PLAYOFF RACE

(3) GAME RECAP

(4) HOW THE RUNS SCORED

(5) ALMANAC
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 2, 2005
Words:923
Previous Article:JACKSON STILL CALLING OWN SHOTS.
Next Article:TIME FOR ANGELS TO TAKE CHARGE.


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