OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Ervin Santana pitched eight strong innings, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Angels kept the Oakland Athletics from winning the AL West for the second straight day with a 7-1 victory Sunday.

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.

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 Seattle Mariners starting Monday at Safeco Field.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dan 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.

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. … 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.

AP-ES-09-24-06 1819EDT


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