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Angels Turn To Ervin Santana To Avoid Sweep In Oakland

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim haven't been swept in a series of at least three games by the Oakland Athletics in more than six years, partly due to the success Ervin Santana has produced against the team's American League West rival.

The right-hander will attempt to keep that streak ongoing, while adding to his impressive career numbers versus the A's, when he takes the mound for the Angels this afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum.

Oakland's last three-game sweep of the Angels took place at the Coliseum from June 29-July 1, 2004, but the club is in position to bring out the brooms after claiming the first two tests of this set. After limiting Anaheim's sputtering offense to five hits in an 8-0 triumph in Friday's opener, the Athletics got some more effective pitching to record a 3-1 win yesterday afternoon.

Trevor Cahill (15-6) kept the Angels off the scoreboard over the game's first six innings to notch his 15th victory of the season, even though the young standout issued a career-high six walks and threw only 60-of-116 pitches for strikes.

Anaheim wasn't able to capitalize on its opportunities, stranding eight baserunners on the day and failing to come up with any clutch hits. That's been an ongoing problem for the Angels as of late, as the three-time defending division champs have lost nine of their last 12 contests and scored three runs or fewer in all of those defeats.

Torii Hunter accounted for the Halos' lone run with a solo homer in the eighth inning, with ace Jered Weaver (11-11) stuck with the loss after allowing three runs in seven innings of work.

"We didn't get anything going on the offensive side to help make that game Jered's," Angels manager Mike Scioscia remarked.

Scioscia's squad could fare better this afternoon, provided Santana can deliver his usual results against the A's. The 2008 AL All-Star boasts a tremendous 11-3 record and a 1.99 earned run average over 19 career matchups (17 starts) with Oakland and has been terrific as well at the Coliseum, where he's gone 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in eight starts and a pair of relief efforts.

That lone loss took place in his most recent visit to Oakland, however. In a June 10 showdown with the Athletics, Santana was reached for five runs (four earned) and lasted just five innings in a 6-1 setback against Cahill.

The 27-year-old does come into today's clash having won four of his last five starts, though, and improved to 14-9 on the year after holding Seattle to two runs over 7 2/3 innings this past Monday at Safeco Field. Santana has pitched at least 6 1/3 innings and permitted three runs or fewer in each victory of that five-game stretch.

Oakland, which closed within eight games of slumping Texas for first place in the AL West with Saturday's verdict, will hand the ball to Vin Mazzaro for the finale. The sophomore hurler will be seeking a rebound from a brutal showing at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, when he was battered for nine runs (seven earned) and served up three homers before being lifted after 3 2/3 innings.

Since winning six of his first eight decisions to begin the year, Mazzaro is 0-5 over his seven most recent starts and pitched to a 5.09 ERA over that rough stretch. His last victory took place against the Chicago White Sox at the Coliseum on July 24.

Mazzaro has fared well in two previous encounters with the Angels this season, having gone 1-0 and allowing just three runs over a span of 12 innings. He's 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA over four career starts in this series.

Oakland has won six of nine meetings with the Angels at the Coliseum thus far in 2010, as well as eight of 15 overall games between the divisional foes this season.