<
>

Haren stifles Angels bats, keeps A's in AL West lead

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Dan Haren wanted to finish what he
started, especially with closer Huston Street getting the night
off.

Haren scattered eight hits in a complete game, Jay Payton hit a
two-run homer and Milton Bradley connected again to lead the
Oakland Athletics past the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 on Monday.

Street, who was charged with his seventh blown save of the
season on Sunday, was given a rest by manager Ken Macha after
pitching in four of the previous five games.

"Knowing Street was down, I definitely wanted to take the ball
for the ninth inning," Haren said after his second complete game
this season. "In that situation, if Street's good to go, I feel
100 percent comfortable giving him the ball. But there was no
pressure at all to finish it. Our whole bullpen's been great the
whole year."

Haren (8-9) overcame a solo homer by Juan Rivera and went the
distance for the fifth time in 76 career starts. The right-hander
struck out five and walked none in a rematch of his July 9 duel
with Ervin Santana -- which the Angels won 4-2 at Oakland.

"The last time I pitched against them, they were really
aggressive -- and before I knew it, it was 2-0 and they had a bunch
of hits off me," Haren said. "I didn't necessarily try to throw
soft stuff tonight or try to keep them off-balance. I just focused
more on making better pitches early in the count. That's why I was
able to keep my pitch count down."

Santana (11-5) allowed three runs and eight hits over eight
innings but lost his second consecutive start after going 7-0 in
his previous nine outings. The right-hander, who came in 4-0 with a
1.54 ERA in four career starts against Oakland, struck out two and
walked one.

The AL West-leading Athletics began a nine-game road trip
against division opponents with their fifth victory in six tries.
They lead the second-place Angels by 1½ games.

Bradley, who ended Sunday's 6-5 win over Toronto with his first
game-winning homer, angrily flung his bat toward the first base
dugout after plate umpire Brian O'Nora called him out on strikes
his first time up. But in the sixth, Bradley drove a 2-0 pitch deep
into the right-field seats for his seventh home run.

Bradley is batting .406 with four homers and 17 RBI in 16 games
since the All-Star break, when he returned from the disabled list
after missing 24 games with a strained left shoulder.

"When we got him, we knew we were getting an impact player,"
third baseman Eric Chavez said. "Now he's healthy, and it's a good
time for him to be hot and to prove himself. But we've got a good
team here and we depend on everybody."

Payton gave Oakland a 3-1 lead in the seventh with his seventh
homer following a leadoff single by Chavez. Each of Payton's last
six home runs have either put Oakland ahead or tied the score.

"Ervin made a couple of mistakes with breaking balls," Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. "Bradley dropped the head of the bat
on it, and Payton got another breaking ball that got a little too
much of the plate. Outside of that, Ervin pitched a terrific game.
But we just couldn't get enough hits with guys in scoring position
to get a bigger lead."

The Angels, who arrived in Southern California near dawn
following Sunday night's 10-4 victory at Boston, took the lead in
the fourth on Rivera's two-out homer to left-center. It was his
17th home run this season and 11th this month, tying the franchise
record for homers in July, set in 1979 by Don Baylor.

Rivera finished July with a .364 average and 25 RBI in 25
games. He was a part-time player most of last season for the
Angels, but started the final 17 games -- a stretch in which they
went 14-3 to secure their second straight AL West crown.

The non-waiver trade deadline came and went without either team
making a deal. The Angels were coveting another big bat, but
general manager Bill Stoneman felt the price was too prohibitive.
Still, second baseman Adam Kennedy is confident they have enough
offense to win a third straight division title.

"This was the same lineup that put it on (Curt) Schilling
pretty good last night, so to say that might be exaggerating a bit
much," Kennedy said. "We were a little sluggish tonight, but
we'll be OK."

Game notes
Marco Scutaro started at SS for the A's in place of Bobby Crosby, who complained of back soreness during batting practice.
... Kennedy singled his first time up to extend his hitting streak
to a career-high 14 games, the longest by an Angel this season. He
had a 13-game streak in June 2005. ... The Angels' record for home
runs in a month is 13, by Tim Salmon in June 1996 and Mo Vaughn in
May 2000.