OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — For six innings Friday night, the Minnesota Twins managed only one hit and sent the minimum to the plate against Scott Kazmir.
They made things interesting in the seventh once it was all but too late in a 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota’s 11th straight in this suddenly lopsided series.
Trevor Plouffe hit an RBI single in the seventh as Minnesota ended a 19-inning scoreless streak and avoided being shut out in consecutive games for the first time this season. Oswaldo Arcia singled in a run and Chris Parmelee’s two-run double chased Kazmir. Ryan Cook entered and immediately gave up Eduardo Nunez’s RBI double.
“We worked some good at-bats off him and that puts pressure on them,” Plouffe said of Kazmir. “We put ourselves in a position of falling behind again.”
Kyle Gibson (10-9) allowed six runs – five earned – and five hits, struck out three and walked a season-high five in five-plus innings while facing the A’s for the first time. He dropped to 4-1 in six starts against the AL West this season.
In Oakland, Minnesota lost for the eighth straight time.
“The guys got playing. We got behind early and had the one bad inning and then we turned that around on them,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “There were baseballs all over the place and the next thing you know, we’ve scored a couple of runs.”
Coco Crisp hit a bases-loaded triple to help Oakland to its longest unbeaten run against the Twins, whose last victory came at Target Field on Sept. 10, 2013. The A’s are 5-0 this year.
Kazmir (13-4) tossed just eight balls among his first 42 pitches through four perfect innings before Kennys Vargas broke up the bid with a single off shortstop Jed Lowrie’s glove. Yet the A’s turned a spectacular 5-4-3 double play on a grounder by Kurt Suzuki to third two batters later.
Kazmir was dominant deep into the game five days after being handed his first loss in six starts and allowing a season-high 10 hits in a Sunday loss to Kansas City.
He followed fellow southpaw Jon Lester’s three-hit gem in a 3-0 win Thursday with his own impressive outing – until the Twins made it interesting.
“It’s something that kind of pumps you up,” Kazmir said. “I say it all the time, as starters we have a friendly challenge and try to outdo each other.”
Gibson loaded the bases on two walks and a single with no outs in the fifth when Crisp tripled to the wall in right-center. Eric Sogard nearly caught Sam Fuld on the play, crossing home plate a couple of steps later. Sogard doubled in two runs the next inning.
“They were aggressive in the beginning and then they got patient on me and I couldn’t make the adjustment,” Gibson said. “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.”
Sean Doolittle retired former A’s slugger Josh Willingham on a called third strike to end it for his 18th save in 21 opportunities. That was moments after Willingham nearly kept a drive inside the left-field foul pole.
The A’s bullpen set an Oakland record with 28 2-3 scoreless innings. The old mark of 27 2-3 was set in June 1998. And Doolittle’s 18 saves are most by an A’s lefty.
“In a few months once the season’s over it will be cool to look back on,” Doolittle said. “Obviously I’m really proud to be in the Oakland record books. We have work left to do this season.”
Twins: Third base coach Joe Vavra is away from the team and will soon undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip. He won’t return to the third-base coach’s box this season. “He can sit on the bench,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll be back with us.” … After a workout day Thursday, first baseman Joe Mauer was set to play nine innings for Class-A Cedar Rapids as he works his way back from a strained right oblique muscle.
Twins: Right-hander Trevor May will be promoted from Triple-A Rochester to make his major league debut. After Friday’s game, the Twins optioned utilityman Chris Colabello to Triple-A to clear roster room.
Athletics: Right-hander Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 3.09) makes his seventh start with the A’s since a July 4 trade with the Cubs. He has allowed six homers in that time.