MINNEAPOLIS (CBS / AP) — Derek Norris hit a three-run homer in the 11th inning, and the Oakland Athletics bounced back from another blown save by new closer Jim Johnson to beat the Minnesota Twins 7-4 on Wednesday.
Jared Burton (0-1) gave up the one-out drive by Norris, who went deep on Tuesday night, too. Dan Otero (1-0) got the last eight outs for the victory in relief of Johnson, who has given up seven runs, nine hits and six walks in five appearances with the A’s.
Oakland has eight straight wins over the Twins, all with at least seven runs.
Minnesota trailed 4-0 after a rocky first inning by Phil Hughes, who needed 40 pitches to get for his first out. Jason Kubel homered in the second inning and Brian Dozier went deep in the eighth to cut into the lead.
Johnson, who had 50 saves for Baltimore last season, has been hit hard in three out of five appearances this season. He gave up the third of four hits by Kubel starting the ninth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Johnson nearly had Eduardo Escobar struck out, but a foul tip was ruled on his two-strike swing.
Escobar then poked a single to left field, cutting the Twins’ deficit to 4-3. A one-hop throw to third nearly forced out Kurt Suzuki, who was ruled safe, and a video review ruled the call stood — meaning there was not “clear and convincing” evidence to overturn it.
Otero replaced Johnson, and Dozier hit a sacrifice fly to right, just deep enough for Suzuki to race home and sneak a hand onto the plate in front of the tag. An umpire-initiated review confirmed the safe call, and the crowd of 22,973 cheered loudly when the video board provided the proof.
Glen Perkins struck out Josh Donaldson to end the 10th inning. The Twins closer yelled at Donaldson and the A’s third baseman gestured and shouted back. Donaldson’s path to Perkins was cut off by the Twins, but after the dugouts mostly emptied, the sides de-escalated.
Donaldson hit an RBI double after Hughes walked the first two batters of the game. Brandon Moss tacked on a two-run single, and Alberto Callaspo added an RBI single. None of the hits were particularly hard, but the damage was done.
After leaving the New York Yankees as a free agent for a $24 million, three-year contract with the Twins, the right-hander expressed relief to escape the pressure of the Bronx and its hitter-friendly ballpark. Hughes went 1-10 with a 6.32 ERA in 17 games at Yankee Stadium last season.
But the first inning was so bad the crowd gave him three sarcastic Bronx-style cheers, the first two for strikes and the third for fanning John Jaso for the first out. Hughes has given up eight runs in 10 innings over his first two starts with the Twins.
Hughes walked three and struck out three in five innings, with five hits surrendered. Twins starters have one win in eight turns, with a collective 6.43 ERA.
Oakland starter Jesse Chavez pitched seven smooth innings with no walks and nine strikeouts. A’s starters have allowed three runs or fewer in each of their first eight games, for a 2.02 ERA. The 30-year-old Chavez, who was solid last season in long relief, has made the transition look smooth so far.
NOTES: Twins RF Oswaldo Arcia took full batting practice before the game, but his sore right wrist didn’t feel any better and he missed his fourth straight game. He’s headed for the disabled list, assistant general manager Rob Antony said. … The A’s held CF Coco Crisp out again following a cortisone shot he had in his left wrist. Manager Bob Melvin said Crisp probably wouldn’t available on Thursday afternoon either. … The Twins honored manager Ron Gardenhire before the game for his 1,000th career victory by giving him a hand-crafted humidor filled with, yep, 1,000 cigars. … Donaldson is hitting .400 in his career against the Twins (20 for 50), his best average against any AL opponent. … The A’s will send RHP Dan Straily (0-1, 4.50 ERA) to the mound for the series finale on Thursday afternoon, and RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06 ERA) is to pitch for the Twins.
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