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Hughes solid in Twins’ 6-1 win over A's

By Eric Gilmore

Sports Xchange

OAKLAND, Calif. — Right-hander Phil Hughes pitched seven strong inning, left fielder Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer and the Minnesota Twins beat Oakland 6-1 Sunday, snapping their 12-game losing streak against the A’s.

The Twins beat the A’s for the first time since Sept. 10, 2013, and avoided getting swept for a second time this season by Oakland.

The A’s won three of four in the series and remained four games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.

Hughes (12-8) allowed just one run on four hits, winning his second straight start. He struck out seven and walked one.

The Twins also had a solo home run from second baseman Brian Dozier in the first inning.

Minnesota and Oakland were tied 1-1 after seven innings, but the Twins scored three times in the top of the eighth when catcher Kurt Suzuki and Willingham, a pair of former A’s, came through with huge extra-base hits.

Center fielder Danny Santana led off with a bunt single against A’s reliever Luke Gregerson, stole second and, with one out, moved to third on a wild pitch. Suzuki drove Santana home with a double that hit high off the left-center wall, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.

With two outs, Willingham crushed a Gregerson slider deep over the left field fence for his 12th home run of the season, extending the Twins’ lead to 4-1.

The Twins added two runs in the ninth off A’s reliever Jesse Sanchez when Suzuki had his second RBI of the game on an infield single with the bases loaded. Sanchez also walked in a run.

Gregerson (2-2) allowed his first runs since June 25, snapping a span of 15 scoreless outings.

A’s right-hander Jason Hammel allowed just one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings but got a no-decision. He struck out five and walked two.

After being traded to Oakland on July 5 by the Chicago Cubs, Hammel lost his first four starts with the A’s, but he won start No. 5 on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, allowing seven hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, then backed that up with another strong start Sunday.

Hughes snapped a three-game losing streak in his previous start, giving up one run over six innings against San Diego. He pitched another gem Sunday. After allowing a run in the first inning, he pitched six straight shutout frames.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, A’s second baseman Alberto Callaspo led off with an infield single and moved to second on second baseman Eric Sogard’s single to center, but Hughes retired the A’s top three hitters — designated hitter Coco Crisp, center fielder Sam Fuld and third baseman Josh Donaldson — in order.

Dozier gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 20th home run of the season, an ongoing career high. With one out, Dozier lined Hammel’s first-pitch fastball over the left field fence. Dozier’s blast was the 16th Hammel has allowed this season, eight of those coming in the first inning.

The A’s pulled even with a run in the bottom of the first off Hughes. Fuld lined a single with one out, stole second and scored on first baseman Stephen Vogt’s two-out single to right. Two pitches before singling, Vogt nearly hit a three-run homer, but his deep drive down the right field line hooked foul.

Saturday’s game

Oakland 9, Minnesota 4

OAKLAND, Calif. — Catcher Derek Norris hit a three-run homer, first baseman Stephen Vogt launched a two-run shot, and the Oakland A’s routed Minnesota 9-4 Saturday night at Coliseum, beating the Twins for a franchise record 12th straight time.

The A’s, who swept three games from the Twins at Target Field in April, beat the Twins for the sixth consecutive time this year and clinched their sixth straight series win against Minnesota.

A’s right-hander Jeff Samardzija (3-1) gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings and won a night game for the first time since Aug. 24, 2013 — a span of 14 starts. He struck out five and walked two in his seventh start since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 5.

Twins rookie right-hander Trevor May’s major-league debut turned into a nightmare. He allowed four runs on three hits over two innings while walking seven and striking out none before giving way to Samuel Deduno.

May threw 63 pitches — just 28 for strikes. May had walked just 37 batters and struck out 91 in 17 appearances and 95 1/3 innings this season at Triple-A Rochester, where he was 8-6 with a 2.93 ERA.

Deduno gave up five runs on five hits, including home runs to Vogt in the fifth and Norris in the sixth, and lasted just three-plus innings before leaving with the Twins trailing 9-2. He had three of the Twins’ 11 walks.

Norris’ home run was his 10th of the season, while Vogt hit his seventh homer and second two-run blast in three games.

A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson went 3-for-4 with a double, drove in two runs and scored once. Norris walked twice with the bases loaded and drove in five runs. Right fielder Josh Reddick went 2-for-5 with a double.

Shortstop Eduardo Escobar and right fielder Jordan Schafer each had two doubles for the Twins. Center fielder Danny Santana went 2-for-5 with a double, designated hitter Kennys Vargas had two hits.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when second baseman Brian Dozier doubled down the left-field line off Samardzija with one out and scored on third baseman Trevor Plouffe’s single to center.

In the bottom of the inning, Oakland left fielder Sam Fuld lined a one-out single to right and moved to third on Donaldson’s double. May walked first baseman Brandon Moss, loading the bases, then walked Norris to force in a run as the A’s snapped their streak of 17 straight games without a first-inning run.