Athletics 2, Twins 1

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Closer Huston Street finally found the stuff his teammates had been waiting to see from the reigning AL Rookie of the Year. And Brad Halsey wasn’t bad coming out of the bullpen again after a stint as a fill-in starter.

Eric Chavez? He provided just enough offense.

Chavez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to center in the seventh inning and also drove in Oakland’s first run in the Athletics’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

Street, who blew his third save of the year Wednesday night against Kansas City, became the first A’s closer to record six or more outs for a save since Keith Foulke did it Aug. 12, 2003, against Boston.

“Every performance is different,” said Street, who took over the ninth-inning job last May and went 5-1 with 23 saves in 27 chances and a 1.72 ERA in 2005. “Rebound or not or whatever, it’s not like I was worried about the last one. You can’t be.”

The A’s are suddenly upbeat about the state of their pitching staff.

Rich Harden will come off the disabled list to start Sunday’s series finale, and several other injured hurlers are nearing returns.

Chavez’s first-inning RBI single stood until the seventh, when Minnesota No. 9 hitter Jason Kubel hit a run-scoring single to right off Kiko Calero to tie it.

The A’s then loaded the bases in the bottom half against Brad Radke (4-7), whose winless stretch reached four starts since beating the Chicago White Sox on May 13. Radke has lost his last three decisions.

The Twins didn’t do much to help his cause, either. They have scored in only two innings so far in this four-game series—getting Justin Morneau’s two-run homer in the eighth inning of Friday night’s 2-1 win and Kubel’s hit Saturday. Minnesota also has been struggling at times to make routine plays on defense, and allowed the A’s to go ahead with an unearned run.

“We feel like we gave away a game there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Oakland’s Dan Haren pitched six scoreless innings but saw his winless stretch reach three starts when the A’s couldn’t protect a 1-0 lead. Halsey (2-2) returned to the bullpen after filling in as a starter and got two outs for the win. Street entered with none out and two runners aboard in the eighth and got the final six outs for his ninth save in 12 chances.

“That eighth inning was pretty special,” Haren said. “He made some good pitches to finish off that inning. That’s Street. That’s what we’ve come to know and expect from him.”

Haren had runners on the corners in the sixth, but got Michael Cuddyer to ground out to third to end the threat. That was it for Haren, who matched his career high set in his previous start with 122 pitches. The right-hander struck out six and walked two. He has walked two or fewer batters in all 12 of his 2006 starts.

Radke, 1-5 in seven road starts this year, allowed eight hits in seven innings, struck out one and walked two. He has walked 15 batters this year after allowing only 17 free passes in all of 2005 and not walking his 13th until Aug. 5 against the Boston Red Sox.

After Mark Kotsay grounded out to start the first, Nick Swisher doubled and Chavez followed with an RBI single to center. Frank Thomas, who had homered in three straight games, then walked.

Pitching coach Rick Anderson paid Radke a mound visit only five batters in against Bobby Crosby, who hit an infield single to load the bases. Radke needed 33 pitches to get out of the inning—not the kind of fast game these teams had played in the first two games.

Radke then got through the second throwing only nine pitches.

“After I threw about 30 pitches, I settled down,” he said. “They have been pitching pretty good over there and we haven’t been playing very well.”

Mike Redmond went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to lose his 10-game hitting streak for the Twins, who fell to 9-4 in one-run games this season.

Time of game was 2 hours, 53 minutes after the first two game finished in 1:57 and Friday’s contest in 2:03.

Notes

Haren has a day ERA of 2.08, tied for fifth-lowest in the AL. … The Twins are 12-8 against the AL West this season. … Radke is 3-2 in his last six starts against the A’s. … Redmond batted .400 (16-for-40) with two doubles and five RBIs during his hitting streak. … Oakland RHP reliever Justin Duchscherer rejoined the team after spending time rehabbing his injured right elbow in Arizona. … Nick Punto, batting leadoff for the second straight day for Minnesota, stole his third base of the year in the sixth. … Haren has thrown 244 pitches in only 12 2-3 innings in his last two outings. … Street struck out four in two innings. … The A’s optioned LHP Ron Flores to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Harden.

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