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Athletics spoil Twins' home opener

By Dan Myers

Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS — There was an old scoreboard graphic back at the Metrodome, the former home of the Minnesota Twins, that used to taunt opposing pitchers prone to base-on-balls with a picture of a ghost and the words “Walks Will Haunt” next to it.

Monday against the Oakland Athletics, Twins pitcher Kevin Correia was plenty spooked.

The A’s drew a leadoff walk in the second inning and a one-out walk in the third to spark offensive rallies as Oakland won 8-3 in front of 35,837 at Target Field, spoiling the Twins’ home opener.

Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss led off the top of the second with a walk and scored on a double by left fielder Yeonis Cespedes. Designated hitter Alberto Callaspo and right fielder Josh Reddick followed with back-to-back singles to right field, with Reddick’s driving in Cespedes, giving Oakland a 2-0 lead.

Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks drove in catcher Kurt Suzuki with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1, but that’s as close as the Twins would get.

A walk to Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie and a double off the right field wall by third baseman Josh Donaldson provided the A’s with a two-on, one-out opportunity in the third inning. Moss followed with a sharp single to right that drove in both before Callaspo’s double to left scored Moss, pushing the Oakland lead to 5-1.

The Twins got two runs back in the bottom of the inning on a one-out double by left fielder Jason Kubel and an RBI groundout by Suzuki.

Oakland starter Scott Kazmir settled in from there, allowing only a walk and a single over his final three innings. He pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out five. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA through two outings this season.

Correia got into a rhythm too, retiring eight of the next nine hitters he faced before running into trouble with two outs in the sixth. He surrendered a home run to Oakland catcher Derek Norris and a single to second baseman Eric Sogard before getting the hook. Correia pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs, all earned, on nine hits, taking his first loss of the season.

Oakland infielder Nick Punto, a former Twin, who entered the game in place of Lowrie after he was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, came around and eventually scored on a balk by Twins reliever Samuel Deduno. Donaldson scored later in the inning on a Cespedes sacrifice fly.

Moss and Cespedes each finished with two RBIs. Oakland finished with 10 hits with Donaldson, Callaspo and Norris leading the way with two apiece.

NOTES: The Twins announced during the game they had acquired INF Eduardo Nunez from the New York Yankees in exchange for minor-league P Miguel Sulbaran. Nunez has played in 270 career games with the Yankees, hitting .267 with 10 home runs, 76 RBIs and 102 runs scored since entering the league in 2010. Nunez, designated for assignment last week by the Yankees, was assigned to Triple-A Rochester but added to the 40-man roster. ... Oakland RF Josh Reddick’s RBI single in the second inning was his first RBI of the season. After a breakout 2012 campaign in which he hit 32 home runs and had 85 RBIs, Reddick struggled last season, hitting just 12 homers and driving in 56. He started this season 2-for-20 at the plate with two runs scored entering Monday. ... Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe’s single in the bottom of the third extended his hitting streak to seven games to start the season. Plouffe also walked in the first inning, marking the fifth game this season he has drawn a base on balls. Plouffe now has six walks in 27 at-bats in 2014 after drawing just 34 in 477 at-bats last season.