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Santana, eliminated Angels take it to A's again


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Ervin Santana made his last start of the
season Friday night, and he's already looking forward to next year.

Santana allowed three hits in seven innings and Chone Figgins
hit his first inside-the-park home run to lead the Los Angeles
Angels over the Oakland Athletics 6-0.

Santana (16-8) struck out two and walked three. It's the first
time the right-hander has won consecutive outings since July 15,
when he won his seventh straight decision in a span of eight starts
-- including the last three.

"I'm very proud and happy and I feel like I'm ready for next
season," Santana said. "This year my goal was to win 20 games,
but I'm happy anyway because I won 16."

Eliminated from the playoff picture Tuesday when the Athletics
dethroned them as AL West champs, the Angels have taken the first
two of this series with back-to-back shutouts against Barry Zito
and Esteban Loaiza, who were named Friday by manager Ken Macha as
his starters for the first two games of their first-round series
against either Minnesota or Detroit.

"I can't begin to express the disappointment earlier this week
when we were eliminated," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after
his team moved a season-best 16 games over .500. "That was a tough
night for all of us and you wake up the next day with a hollow
feeling. But there's nothing we can do about it now, and we're over
it. We're picking up the pieces and moving on. We wanted to come
out here and end up on a good note."

Pitching his first full season in the majors, Santana finished
with 141 strikeouts in 204 innings and a 4.28 ERA. He was the
winningest pitcher on a staff that was without Cy Young
Award-winning right-hander Bartolo Colon for most of the season.

"The way Ervin pitched down the stretch for us last year and in
Game 5 of the Division Series has to give anyone a confidence
boost," Scioscia said, referring to Santana's series-clinching
victory over the Yankees in relief of an injured Kelvim Escobar.
"Ervin picked right up this year and repeated with a terrific
season."

Brendan Donnelly pitched the eighth and J.C. Romero worked the
ninth to finish off the three-hitter.

Loaiza (11-9) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits over
four innings. He finished the regular season with a 4.89 ERA, after
going 7-1 over his previous 10 starts. The right-hander is 0-4 with
an 8.49 ERA in his last seven starts against the Angels, who
haven't lost to him since Aug. 20, 2003.

Oakland was shut out in consecutive games for the first time
since June 19-20 at Colorado. The A's rested some of their regulars
in both games, but they know they can't afford to get into bad
habits.

"We feel like we've got a good enough team to get to where we
want to be. You've just got to believe in yourself," Jay Payton
said. "The hot team wins in the playoffs. If you get hot and
everybody's clicking at the right time, that's the team that's
going to go all the way."

Oakland is batting .259 as a team, the second lowest in the AL.
The A's also have the second-fewest hits, total bases and slugging
percentage in the league, and have been shut out 11 times. They
also have scored the fifth-fewest runs.

"If you look at our offensive numbers overall, it wasn't great.
But one thing we were able to do was bear down and get that big hit
when we needed it," Payton said. "When we were playing our best
ball, we got really good pitching and getting that timely hit. And
that's what we're going to have to do in the playoffs. We know
we've got the right pieces to get it done."

Figgins doubled in a run in the second and Jeff Mathis added a
sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Tim Salmon had an RBI single, Garret
Anderson a sacrifice fly and Adam Kennedy a run-scoring single as
the Angels jumped out to a 5-0 lead after five innings.

Figgins added his ninth homer of the season in the eighth
against Kiko Calero, sending a drive into the right-field corner
and turning on the jets as the ball skidded past Hiram Bocachica.

"When I first hit it, I saw it hit and then spin away, so I
thought I had a chance at a triple," Figgins said. "But after I
took second base I heard the crowd yelling louder, so it made me
think that something happened out there."

Game notes
Oakland manager Ken Macha turned 56 years old Friday. He
was reminded of the first birthday he celebrated after joining the
Angels coaching staff in 1992, when he returned to the clubhouse
and saw a large birthday cake sitting on a table. He was elated --
until he was told it was for then-owner Gene Autry. Friday would
have been the Singing Cowboy's 99th birthday. ... Angels 1B Darin
Erstad will meet with Dr. Philip Kwong on Sunday to decide on a
date to have surgery on the troublesome right ankle that limited
him to 40 games and 95 at-bats this season. ... Payton grounded
into a double play in the fourth. It was the major league-leading
164th this season by the Athletics, breaking the Oakland record set
in 1989.