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LAA@OAK: Haren hurls six frames of one-run ball

Last week, the Angels arrived in Oakland to face a red-hot Athletics team in a crucial matchup in the American League Wild Card race. The Angels not only ended the A's nine-game winning streak, but went on to sweep Oakland and haven't lost since.

On Monday, those roles will be reversed as the A's travel to Anaheim to square off with the suddenly surging Angels in the final meeting between the clubs this season. The Halos enter the series having won six straight and 11 of 12.

"We're hot. We're ready to go," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "We're just taking it one game at a time and we're putting our all into one game. All we can do is keep playing and riding this wave until it falls out, and that's what we're going to do."

The Angels will need to snap yet another nine-game streak of the A's if they want to extend their own streak, as Oakland has won nine consecutive on the road after completing a sweep of the Mariners on Sunday.

One of the streaks will have to end Monday. With last week's sweep, the Angels hold a slight 8-7 lead in the head-to-head series this season.

"Earlier in the season we did pretty well against them, and this is the first time they had their way with us," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the sweep. "They've continued to play well, so you know it's going to be a challenging series going in there -- as it always is against them -- yet they are probably playing better than they have all year at this point."

That improved play has the Angels within one game of the second AL Wild Card spot and just 1 1/2 games in back of the A's for the first Wild Card spot. That's a vast improvement from when they opened their series together last Monday, as the Angels were 5 1/2 games behind the A's and 3 1/2 in back of the second Wild Card spot.

While the Angels' offense has been striking early and putting up runs, it's been their pitching that has fueled the recent surge.

The Angels are conceding an average of just 1.8 runs per game over their last 11, and haven't allowed more than three runs in any contest during that stretch. Even their lone loss during that span came in a 2-1 pitchers' duel in Seattle.

"Things go in cycles," said Monday's starter for the Halos, Dan Haren. "Unfortunately, the starting pitching has not given us enough opportunities to win games. With the offense that we have, if we can minimize damage to two or three, sometimes even four runs in six or seven innings, we're going to win most of those games."

Lately, Haren -- who will square off against the A's Jarrod Parker -- and his fellow Angels pitchers have done just that. In Monday's series opener, Haren will be looking for his third straight victory -- and second straight against the A's.

The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits over six innings in last Wednesday's sweep-clinching victory against the A's.

"This is not the A's team we're used to facing the last couple of years," said Haren. "They come out, they swing the bats hard. They're not just going for walks and singles. They have a very good ballclub over there."

"I think you can make a case for every game being important from now until the end of the schedule," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The games are going to be there. They're all going to be important. We need to focus on [Monday's] game and just start to build that momentum. You're going to have a tough game every day.

"I don't think it's going to serve any purpose to put any label on any series or anything, but we need to continue winning. We continue winning, good things will happen. That's what has to be our focus."

Athletics: Drew settling in nicely
August wasn't all that kind to A's shortstop Stephen Drew. Not only did he get traded away from the D-backs -- where he spent his first six Major League seasons -- but he hit just .205, including .211 in his first 10 games with the A's.

So far in September, Drew is hitting .320 (8-for-25) in seven games as he settles in to his new home.

"A month before, I just didn't have anything to show for it," Drew said Sunday. "I was hitting the ball well, but that's just the way baseball is. That's why you play six months to see what happens. I feel good at the plate, and everything is feeling good right now."

Angels: Izturis to miss a few games
Infielder Maicer Izturis doesn't expect to play in this pivotal series, as he figures his ailing back will keep him out another few days.

Izturis left Saturday's game early after his back tightened up and sat out Sunday's sweep-clinching 3-2 victory against the Tigers. He originally tweaked his back in the first inning Saturday, but stayed in the game until the fourth inning when he realized he could no longer play through it.

"I just felt locked up," Izturis said in Spanish. "I figured, 'If I keep going, it'll just get worse.' ... I'll just stay off it for a couple of days, ice it, and, like I said, take maybe four days off and get myself ready to finish strong."

On Sunday, the Angels used Erick Aybar at shortstop and Alberto Callaspo at third base. They also can use Andrew Romine at second, third or shortstop.

Worth noting
• Parker is 0-2 in three starts against the Angels this season, despite posting a respectable 3.05 ERA.

• The Angels' 8-7 record against Oakland this season gives them a 27-26 edge in the head-to-head series with the A's since the start of the 2010 season.

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