The Minnesota Twins didn’t need an offensive flurry to keep their longest winning streak of the season alive on Friday.
One day later, they’ll try for their sixth straight win as they continue a three-game series with the Athletics in Oakland.
The Twins (28-25) beat the Athletics 3-2 in 10 innings in Friday’s series opener for their longest winning streak since they won five in a row Sept. 8-12. They have not won six in a row since an eight-game run July 14-21.
Minnesota won Friday despite failing to score at least four runs for the first time in 13 games. The Twins, who have won 10 of their last 13, had pounded out 26 runs and 39 hits in their previous three games.
On Friday, however, they got six strong innings from Kevin Slowey in his major league debut and needed RBI singles from Jeff Cirillo and Mike Redmond to win. The bullpen was strong again, though a two-out single in the eighth by Eric Chavez snapped an 0-for-38 streak by opponents against Twins’ relievers dating to May 26 against Toronto.
“Bullpens go according to how your starting pitchers do,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official team site. “If starters go deep into games, you can protect your bullpen and they can be strong.”
Carlos Silva (3-5, 4.22 ERA) will look to give the Twins that kind of start on Saturday. He ended a four-start losing streak on Sunday, allowing two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over Toronto.
Silva, who won for the first time since April 28 at Detroit, had allowed 12 runs in 10 1-3 innings in his previous two starts - the only two among his 10 this season in which he gave up more than three runs.
“I think the last two games I was throwing too many off pitches,” he told the Twins’ site. “Today I was trusting my sinker a little more and letting it do the work. I had a lot of ground balls and success in the game.”
Silva is 2-1 with a 3.35 ERA in seven career regular-season outings - six starts - against the A’s.
Oakland will counter with Joe Blanton (4-3, 4.28), who was battered for a season-high eight runs and a career high-tying three homers in Sunday’s 8-4 loss to Baltimore. Blanton, who had allowed just two home runs in his previous five starts, has given up 14 runs in 11 1-3 innings in his last two outings.
“I need to go back to the drawing board and just go back to the way I threw in the nine games before that when I kept balls down in the zone,” he told the Athletics’ site. “Then I can elevate and get strikeouts.”
Blanton is 2-2 with a 5.92 ERA in four career starts against the Twins and allowed 13 runs in 11 1-3 total innings in two outings against them last season, both in Minnesota.
The A’s (26-27) have lost four of six games. They got a tying homer from Chavez in the sixth inning Friday, but fell short in Mark Kotsay’s season debut.
Kotsay was activated from the 60-day disabled list and went 1-for-4 in his first game since recovering from an operation on his lower back March 8. With his return, manager Bob Geren had his entire projected starting outfield from opening day available, but he chose to rest Shannon Stewart.
Friday’s game was the first between the teams since Oakland swept last October’s AL division series against Minnesota.