MINNEAPOLIS (CBS / AP) — Chris Carter and Yoenis Cespedes each homered and drove in three runs, powering the Oakland Athletics past the Minnesota Twins 9-3 on Saturday night.
Seth Smith and Brandon Moss also homered to beat Cole De Vries (2-2) and back Tommy Milone (9-6). The A’s won for the eighth time in nine games to move two games above the .500 mark for the first time in two months.
The ball was flying all over Target Field, and the A’s outhomered the Twins 4-2 on this steamy night. They’ve gone deep at least once in 19 of their last 20 games and have crept into the wild-card race by winning 23 of their last 36.
Minnesota had 14 hits and every starter had at least one, but still lost its fourth in a row. Josh Willingham each homered, but twice the Twins were thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single.
Willingham, well on his way to surpassing his career high of 29 homers, has gone deep five times in five games this year against his former team. He has 22.
Milone turned in the latest strong start by this young, surging A’s rotation, which has surrendered two runs or fewer in nine of the last 11 games. He allowed 10 hits but only two runs and one walk while striking out four in six innings. He’s second in the league in wins by a rookie this season, behind Yu Darvish.
With Coco Crisp resting because of a sore left shoulder he aggravated swinging the bat and Cespedes still relegated to designated hitter duty due to a sprained left thumb, the A’s moved Josh Reddick from right field to center, gave their first baseman Moss his first start of the season in right and put the recent call-up Carter at first.
The mild lineup shuffle helped create quite the power surge, the night after Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam to beat Francisco Liriano.
De Vries, who pitched five scoreless innings against the A’s in his Target Field debut on May 29, is one of the many starters who’ve been promoted ahead of their time by the Twins this season to help fill out a depleted rotation. The rookie turned in his finest performance yet right before the All-Star break, yielding just three hits over seven shutout innings at Texas.
This, his sixth major league start, was more like a batting practice session.
Even the outs were hit hard by the A’s, who are last in the majors in batting average though middle of the pack in home runs. De Vries got two quick outs before a sharp single by Reddick and a double off the wall by Cespedes that bounced past Ben Revere’s outstretched glove and ricocheted back to hit the right fielder in the collarbone after a mistimed jump.
Then De Vries plunked Moss, and two pitches later Carter hit his three-run shot to make it 4-0 and establish the theme for the evening. De Vries lasted five innings, giving up seven runs. His ERA soared from 3.00 to 4.37, and the right-hander has now allowed nine homers in 35 innings.
Trailing 8-2, the Twins had the bases loaded and none out in the sixth after Trevor Plouffe stretched his career-long hitting streak to 12 straight games with an RBI single. But that threat fizzled after a fielder’s choice dribbler back to the mound and an inning-ending double play grounder. Joe Mauer hit into a double play, too, with runners at second and third in the seventh.
NOTES: A’s LHP Brett Anderson marked the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. He’s expected to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday, another significant step in his recovery. … LHP Brian Duensing (1-5, 4.11 ERA) takes the mound on 10 days of rest for the Twins in Sunday’s series finale. He left his last start in the fifth inning after being hit by a batted ball on the left ankle. RHP Jarrod Parker (5-4, 2.86), whose .216 opponent batting average is the lowest among rookies in the majors with 70-plus innings, pitches for the A’s. … Camilo Pascual was inducted as the 24th member of the Twins Hall of Fame before the game. The 78-year-old native of Cuba was a five-time All-Star who spent 13 of his 18 major league seasons with the Washington Senators and Twins franchise. He went 88-57 with a 3.31 ERA from 1961-66 for the Twins.
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