Athletics 4, Twins 2

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—The Oakland Athletics caught Johan Santana on a rare off day.

Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby each drove in runs to help Chad Gaudin to his fifth straight win, and the A’s beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Sunday to take the series.

This win could provide a nice morale boost for Oakland before the Boston Red Sox come to town for a four-game series starting Monday night. The A’s must face Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling in the series.

“Beating somebody like Santana is quite a chore,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Congratulations to the offense for getting some runs off him. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. … Any time you get runs off him, you’ll take them. He has a history of dominating a game.”

Santana (6-5), who had won his last two starts, struck out four but also walked a season-high four batters and ran into trouble right away in the first, then again in the third. He allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in six innings as the Twins had their streak of four straight series victories snapped.

After back-to-back walks to Swisher and Dan Johnson in the third, Chavez hit a sacrifice fly and Crosby then singled in a run. Another run came in on a two-base throwing error by Minnesota shortstop Jason Bartlett, who threw wildly past first and the ball nearly reached the visiting bullpen. Crosby reached third on the play.

After getting a leadoff popup by Shannon Stewart, Santana allowed a double to Mark Ellis, an RBI single by Swisher followed by back-to-back walks to Dan Johnson and Chavez to load the bases for Crosby. He grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“I was all right. It just wasn’t my best outing,” Santana said. “They hit the ball to the right spots and we didn’t. Too many walks and you have to pay for them.”

Jason Kubel homered to start the sixth for his third hit, snapping a 67-inning homerless streak for Gaudin. Michael Cuddyer added an RBI single in the fifth.

Minnesota—which had its season-best five-game winning streak snapped Saturday night—stranded baserunners in each of the first three innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the third after Torii Hunter’s popout.

Kubel’s third homer of the year was the Twins’ first longball since May 29 against Chicago, a span of 178 plate appearances. Kubel hit the team’s previous homer, too.

But Minnesota managed little else on offense Sunday.

“It was kind of a disappointing day,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We missed one play and it ends up costing us. … Johan threw the ball well. It wasn’t his best effort, but he was OK. We need to score some runs for him, especially early.”

Gaudin (6-1) won his fourth straight start, giving the A’s another solid outing by their starters a day after Joe Blanton pitched a three-hit shutout in a 1-hour, 49-minute game.

“I got myself in some jams early,” Gaudin said. “I didn’t really have anything overpowering today. I made some key pitches in key situations.”

Gaudin allowed two runs on eight hits, struck out two and walked five in five innings. He received a decision for the first time in three career appearances against Minnesota, a team he faced twice in relief last season. Alan Embree recorded the final four outs for his fourth save in as many chances.

Geren liked his team’s patience at the plate against a top pitcher.

“We laid off some of his changeups he usually gets swings and misses from,” the skipper said.

Travis Buck sat out a day after vomiting on the field and coming out of the game in the second. Geren considered playing him, but wants to have everybody fresh the Red Sox series. Milton Bradley, who already has spent two stints on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, was held out and listed as day-to-day after straining his right calf Saturday night.

Notes

Stewart got his 1,500th hit with a single in the third. … Jack Cust struck out three times for the A’s and is batting 4-for-35 (.114) in his last 11 games after going 13-for-42 with eight homers and 20 RBIs over his initial 13 games for Oakland. … Minnesota’s Nick Punto stole his 10th and 11th bases of the season and walked three times. … The A’s designated RHP Jay Witasick for assignment before the game and called up RHP Santiago Casilla, who got his first chance in the sixth and struck out three of the four batters he faced. “I’m really happy,” he said. “It went well.” … Santana was the 21st lefty starter the A’s have faced this year, most in the American League. … Twins C Joe Mauer, on the DL since May 6 with a strained left quadriceps, left for extended spring training in Florida with hopes of rejoining Minnesota soon.

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