Series victory on the line in Angels-Padres finale

The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have each come out on the winning end in the first two contests of a three-game set this weekend and this afternoon each will look to take the rubber match at Petco Park.

In the series opener on Friday the Angels won in convincing fashion by taking a 7-2 decision over the Padres.

On Saturday the Padres responded with some clutch hitting in the late innings to avenge the loss by pulling out a 3-2 victory.

Alexi Amarista was a perfect 2-for-2 in the ballgame, with the most important hit coming in the seventh when he smacked an RBI double that broke a 2-2 tie.

Cameron Maybin also had a pair of RBI in the game and Luke Gregerson earned the win by getting the final out in the top of the seventh inning with a runner on second.

Before Gregerson entered the game the Padres had gotten a strong performance from starter Eric Stults, who was making his first appearance in a San Diego uniform after being claimed on waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Friday. Stults was making the start in place of Tim Stauffer, who was placed on the 15-Day DL on Friday.

Stults pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out two batters in the game. The bullpen took it from there, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings with Dale Thayer hurling the ninth for his fifth save of the season.

"My goal was to come in and give a quality start," said Stults. "I know (the Padres) have had the injury bug so they needed somebody to come in and throw some innings."

Even with the win San Diego remains in last place in the NL West standings at 12 1/2 games behind the first place Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dan Haren made the start for Los Angeles and was just behind the pace set by Stults as he lasted 6 2/3 innings as well but allowed three runs on six hits while striking out five to put his record at 1-5 for the season.

Erick Aybar was 4-for-4 with a double and triple as well as an RBI and run scored in the game, but the rest of the Angles lineup was held in check in the game, finishing a combined 2-for-26.

The Angels are now 18-23 on the season, which is just a half-game above last- place Seattle in the AL West standings.

With injuries like the one to Stauffer becoming a real issue for the Padres rotation they have needed the pitchers they have inserted to step up and none has done as good a job this season as Anthony Bass, who will get the start this afternoon.

Bass will be making his eighth start and 10th appearance overall and enters play with a record of 2-4 with an impressive 2.87 ERA this season. Bass is in only his second season in the majors after being called up in 2011, a season in which he had 27 total appearances with only three coming as starts.

The 24-year-old has impressed since being pushed into the starting rotation in mid-April and was at his best in his last start. The right-hander pitched eight innings and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out seven as the Padres took down Washington 6-1 last Tuesday.

Bass has only one appearance against AL competition in his brief career after he pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed a run in an outing against Seattle last season.

Opposing Bass will be Ervin Santana, who will continue to try to forget the rough start he had to the season and put together his third consecutive win for the Angels

Santana lost his first six starts after posting double-digit win totals in each of the previous two seasons. The right-hander has gotten back on track in his two recent starts that have both ended with Santana as the winning pitcher.

Last Tuesday Santana was as effective as he's been all season, pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings while allowing just four hits and striking out nine. He now has 20 strike outs in the month of May alone to already surpass his total from April (19).

Despite not racking up the wins this season Santana has been a workhorse for the Angels, pitching to at least the seventh in five of his eight starts while reaching the 100-pitch plateau six times, including the last four straight.

Santana won in his only career start against the Padres allowing one run on three hits over six innings in 2006. Santana is 10-7 with an ERA of 3.93 in 22 career interleague starts.

This is the first series between these teams since the Angels swept a series at home during the 2009 season. In that series the Angels dominated outscoring the Padres 26-7 in the three wins.