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Santana fans nine over 7 2/3 scoreless

Angels righty Ervin Santana has been soaring after a rough start to the season, and he will look to keep it up when the Angels and Padres wrap up their first series of Interleague Play on Sunday at Petco Park.

After starting the year with a 7.23 ERA while giving up 10 long balls in his first four starts, Santana has turned things around. The righty has rattled off four straight quality starts for the Angels, accumulating a 2.10 ERA during that span, and he is coming off a brilliant outing against Oakland, when he threw 7 2/3 shutout innings while fanning nine and giving up just four hits.

"Ervin has pitched much better than his numbers have shown," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's going to give us a good spurt and keep going. We need him."

Standing in Santana's way is another righty pitching hot on the heels of his best outing of the year. Hurler Anthony Bass, who joined San Diego's rotation in the middle of April and tossed a career-high-tying eight innings of one-run ball against the Nationals during his last outing, will toe the rubber for the Padres.

The 24-year-old Bass outdueled Stephen Strasburg in his last start, retiring 22 of the 28 batters he faced and striking out seven while walking one.

"Outstanding," Padres manager Bud Black said of Bass' last outing. "And with great efficiency. It's something we talked about, and it doesn't happen overnight. But I think he understands the value of attacking hitters. Now, we're seeing more of a pitcher, a guy changing speeds, moving the ball in and out."

Bass will try to replicate his last performance and attack the Angels' lineup in just his 11th career start and his first Interleague start as the Padres try to clinch the series.

Angels: Downs still the closer
Scioscia said the Angels are sticking with right-handed reliever Scott Downs as their closer, although there will be times where he is used earlier in games to set up Ernesto Frieri for the ninth, like Friday, when the Angels scored three runs in the ninth and eliminated the save situation.

"It's not so much matching Scott up as it is matching the other guys up to game situations, and that's what will move around a little bit," Scioscia said. "But if we get to the ninth inning, there's no doubt that Scott is our primary guy."

Padres: MRI on Darnell shows no damage
After being placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, outfielder James Darnell received some good news on Saturday: The MRI on his surgically repaired left shoulder showed no structural damage to his labrum.

The result of Darnell's MRI was some rare positive injury news for the Padres, who have a Major League-high 13 players on the DL after outfielder Mark Kotsay was put on the shelf Saturday with a lower back injury.

Worth noting
The winner of Sunday's finale will own the all-time series lead between these two clubs. Following San Diego's win Saturday, the series is tied 12-12.

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