Twins falter again during difficult road trip
OAKLAND, Calif.—Liam Hendriks was left to wait for his first major victory yet again.
He had had 13 tries spanning two seasons as a starter.
A day after being recalled from Triple-A Rochester, for his third big league stint of the year with Minnesota, the 23-year-old Aussie struggled along with the Twins offense in a 5-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
It was another stumble on this tough road trip.
"It was just a bad day for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's too bad we lost the series."
Coco Crisp homered, hit an RBI double, and scored three runs for the A's, tinkering a bit with his batting stance.
"I felt like Cal Ripken over there with so many batting stances," Crisp said.
Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning that held up for Tommy Milone, and Crisp also singled and stole his 28th base to give the A's a much-needed boost only a couple of hours after right-hander Bartolo Colon received a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. The ban came one day before he had been scheduled to start the opener of a series at Tampa Bay.
Milone (10-9) allowed one run and two hits, struck out five and walked one in eight impressive innings to end a five-start winless stretch in which he had gone 0-3 since his last victory, a 9-3 decision at Minnesota on July 14. He lowered his ERA to 3.87 from 4.03 and became Oakland's second 10-game winner after Colon, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner while with the Angels.
The A's won despite four errors behind Milone.
"Typically, you don't win games making four errors," manager Bob Melvin said. "The reason we did come back is Milone."
Josh Reddick added an RBI single for the A's (67-56), who moved a season-high 11 games over .500 -- their best since finishing the 2006 season at 93-69. That's the last year Oakland reached the playoffs, getting swept in four games of the AL championship series by the Detroit Tigers.
Oakland began the day a half-game out in the AL wild-card race.
"When Coco plays well, we win," Melvin said.
Hendriks (0-6) is yet to win in nine starts this season. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits in five innings -- and he didn't get much help from the Twins' stagnant bats. They managed only three hits, Matt Carson getting two of them.
"I wasn't given a lead and trying to blow it," Hendriks said. "We had some good at bats against Milone. It was just one of those days where I had to keep us in the game. It's unfortunate I only went five."
Not even the steady Josh Willingham had a hit in him this time as Minnesota lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Willingham, who hit 29 home runs in 2011 during his lone season with the A's, went 0 for 4 after he had hit safely in each of his first eight games against his former club this year.
"Milone did the rest. He shut us down and went deep into the game," Gardenhire said.
A day after the A's turned a triple play, and Minnesota didn't leave a single runner on base in Oakland's 4-1 win, things weren't much better for the Twins. Two batters after Crisp's solo homer in the seventh against reliever Tyler Robertson, Reddick reached second when shortstop Pedro Florimon's wild throw trying for a double play sailed past first and into the visiting dugout. Then he successfully turned one in the eighth.
Drew Butera had an RBI groundout in the second for Minnesota, which has lost five of the first six on its 10-game trip and now heads to Texas for a four-game series against the two-time reigning AL champion Rangers. The Twins scored nine runs in the series, seven in Monday's 7-2 win, and still must play 10 of their next 14 games away from home.
The A's won the season series with the Twins 5-4 -- just the second season-series victory for Oakland in seven years and first since 2009.
Milone dazzled with his change-up and followed a stellar outing by Brett Anderson in the left-hander's return Tuesday night following a 14-month absence for his recovery from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
"Obviously Bartolo's going to be missed," Milone said. "We move on from now."
Oakland's Josh Donaldson doubled and scored in the fourth on Crisp's hit. Donaldson has a career-best, six-game hitting streak and is batting .429 (15 for 35) in nine games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 14.
Notes: Milone passed Colon for the team lead in innings pitched, 153 1-3 to 152 1-3. ... RHP Tyson Ross will be called up from Sacramento to start Thursday in place of Colon for the first game of a three-game series with the Rays. ... Hendriks was one of three Australian pitchers in the ballpark -- joining Oakland's Travis Blackley and Grant Balfour. ... Milone improved to 5-1 in seven starts against American League Central teams.