The Sports Xchange

By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange

A's hang on to beat Twins

OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Coco Crisp drilled a three-run triple in the fifth inning, snapping a scoreless tie with the Minnesota Twins, the Oakland A's realized it was a big hit.

They just didn't know how big until much later in the night.

After building a 6-0 lead on the strength of Crisp's triple and second baseman Eric Sogard's two-run double in the sixth, the A's withstood a furious Twins rally and held on for a 6-5 victory at the O.co Coliseum.

The A's increased their lead to four games over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West. They extended their winning streak against the Twins to 11 games, an Oakland record, and beat them for the eighth straight time at the Coliseum, another record.

Without Crisp's big hit, the A's streak likely would have died.

"We do it one through nine," Crisp said. "We have our power guys and have a lot of speed on this team. Any given night, it could be anybody. Fortunately I was able to find a gap and knock a few runs in."

A's left-hander Scott Kazmir (13-4) gave up five runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Kazmir blanked the Twins for the first six innings on one hit.

But in the top of the seventh inning, Minnesota struck for five runs, knocking him out of the game.

"They put some good swings on the ball, but at the same time instead of making those quality pitches when I'm ahead in the count, I was just leaving it up," Kazmir said. "It's frustrating, but, you know, we got the win. That's all that matters."

Twins center fielder Danny Santana hit a sharp leadoff single to center field and moved to second when Kazmir walked second baseman Brian Dozier. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe grounded an RBI single to left, snapping the Twins' 19-inning scoreless streak. With one out, right fielder Oswaldo Arcia singled to center, driving in Dozier.

First baseman Chris Parmelee sliced a two-run double down the left-field line with two outs, cutting Oakland's lead to 6-4 and ending Kazmir's night. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez greeted right-hander Ryan Cook with a run-scoring double to right center, making it 6-5.

"Up until the seventh, Kazmir had his good stuff, changing speeds and locating it," Plouffe said. "We worked some good at-bats off him and that puts pressure on them. We put ourselves in a position of falling behind again. We battled and fought out there but just came up short."

A's right-hander Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect eighth inning.

Closer Sean Doolittle gave up a leadoff single to designated hitter Kennys Vargas in the ninth inning but struck out Arcia, retired catcher Kurt Suzuki on a fly ball to center and fanned left fielder Josh Willingham, who looked at strike three, one pitch after he hit a deep drive to left that hooked foul. Doolittle posted his 18th save, the most by a left-hander in franchise history.

"I knew it was right down the line," Doolittle said of Willingham's long foul ball. "I was joking after the game that so far this series our grounds crew's done a great job of putting the foul pole in a good spot. I put the pitch where I wanted to put it, up in the zone. He was obviously ready for it. Put a really good swing on it. Fortunately it hooked foul."

Dozier just missed hitting a three-run shot Thursday night off A's left-hander Jon Lester in a 3-0 loss to Oakland.

The A's bullpen extended its streak to 28 2/3 scoreless innings, setting an Oakland record.

Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (10-9) gave up six runs and five hits in five innings, striking out three and walking a season-high five.

Gibson blanked the A's for four innings before giving up four runs in the fifth. With no outs and two runners on in the sixth, Gibson gave way to right-hander Anthony Swarzak, who gave up Sogard's two-run double.

"It was pretty frustrating to have the fifth inning go as it did, and the sixth for that matter," Gibson said. "They were aggressive in the beginning and then they got patient on me and I couldn't make the adjustment. My fastball wasn't as sharp as it has been but that's not why I walked guys. It's embarrassing to pitch five innings and walk that many. I gave up four runs on two hits. That's embarrassing."

A's first baseman Stephen Vogt led off the fifth with a walk, and center fielder Sam Fuld, a former Twin, dropped a perfect drag bunt for a single. Parmelee fielded the bunt but threw wildly to first for an error as Vogt raced to third and Fuld, after a collision at the bag with Dozier, advanced to second.

Gibson walked Sogard, loading the bases, and Crisp launched a three-run triple to right-center field. With one out, Crisp came home on a passed ball.

"That was really a big hit in the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Their guy was really pitching well. He was dealing, and then really the hit by Coco sent him into a different direction."

NOTES: Twins RHP Trevor May will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Saturday and made his major league debut with a start against the A's. May, who joined the Twins on Friday in Oakland, was 8-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 starts for Rochester. ... Oakland SS Jed Lowrie (bruised right index finger) started Friday night against Minnesota after being out of the lineup for three games. ... A's 1B Kyle Blanks (torn left calf) will begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Sacramento. He has been on the disabled list since June 23.

-----------------------------------------------