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ANGELS KEEP A'S IN HOLDING PATTERN L.A. STAVES OFF ELIMINATION AGAIN WITH WIN ANGELS 7, OAKLAND 1.

Byline: DOUG PADILLA Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- Had the Angels played with the sense of urgency they showed the past two days in the Bay Area, their situation certainly would be a little less dire.

With champagne on ice in the Oakland Athletics' locker room for a second consecutive day, the Angels delivered another free-and-easy game in their 7-1 victory that canceled any of their opponent's party plans.

That A's magic number that ticked down to two when Oakland beat the Angels in extra innings Friday will remain that way when play begins tonight. The Angels will open a three- game series against the Texas Rangers, while the A's travel to Seattle. The A's are 15-1 against the Mariners this season.

Ervin Santana allowed just two hits over eight innings, Chone Figgins stole his 50thbase and two three-run innings were more than enough as another sold-out crowd left disappointed.

The A's still have sevengames to get their desired result, so it isn't as if there is fear in their eyes just yet.

``As a team we know we're not going to go down easy,'' Figgins said. ``We're going to go down fighting however we go down. We have to worry more about ourselves than worry about what they're doing.''

Maicer Izturis had a two-run triple in the third inning and Vladimir Guerrero had a two-run home run in the sixth, his 31st. It was the 336th homer of Guerrero's career, tying him with Joe Adcock for 84th on the all-time list.

``We're going to fight to the end and the end ain't here yet, so this will give us a couple more days to keep fighting,'' Figgins said. ``That's the best thing about playing with the guys who have been here for a while like the (Garret) Andersons, the (Darin) Erstads and the (Adam) Kennedys. They lead by example. They don't say much, but they go out fighting.''

Santana found his rhythm early and used a quick-pitch approach to keep the A's off-balance. He also overcame some of his road woes for a day to improve to 6-6 away from home. He is 9-2 at Angel Stadium.

The only run Santana gave up came in the sixth inning after Marco Scutaro led off with a triple that took an awkward bounce off the out-of-town scoreboard in left field. After Jason Kendall struck out, Mark Kotsay brought home the run with a ground ball.

That was it as far as A's scoring chances went. They had only one other runner advance to second base, but Scutaro was stranded there in the third inning after reaching on an Izturis error.

Santana (15-8) threw 97 pitches and asked to stay in for the ninth, but relented when he was told the team wanted to get J.C. Romero an inning of work.

Romero closed out the victory with a perfect ninth.

``His routine was the same, but early on you saw that his command was sharp,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Santana. ``It's a patient club over there and (Santana) made pitches. He used everything and was in the zone early and often.''

The effort displayed as the team faced elimination from playoff consideration pleased Scioscia.

``I wouldn't have expected anything else from these guys and they wouldn't have settled for anything but the effort they are giving,'' Scioscia said.

``There has been no questioning them playing the game hard. We haven't executed as crisply as we can in a couple of important areas, but you can see these guys have kept plugging away.''

Figgins joined the New York Mets' Jose Reyes and the Chicago Cubs' Juan Pierre as the only players with at least 50 steals in the past two seasons. He is the third Angel to do it back-to-back seasons, joining Gary Pettis (1985-86) and Luis Polonia (1992-93).

doug.padilla@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2731

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) The Angels' Chone Figgins, right, gets congratulated after scoring in the third inning.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

(2) Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana allowed just one run in eight innings Sunday.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 25, 2006
Words:686
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