Twins 4, Athletics 3

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Carlos Silva didn’t succumb to self-imposed pressure.

Silva allowed two hits pitching into the seventh inning, Michael Cuddyer drove in a pair of runs and the Minnesota Twins held on to beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 Saturday night.

Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer and Jason Tyner each had two hits for the Twins, who have won the first three games of the series and entered the night trailing Detroit by seven games in the AL Central.

It was the third straight strong outing by a Minnesota starter. Scott Baker allowed two runs over six innings Thursday and Johan Santana threw seven shutout innings Friday.

“After you see two guys throw like that, you want to do the same,” Silva said. “So my mentality was to have a good game and keep the score low to give the opportunity for my team to win.”

Joe Blanton (8-6) allowed 10 hits in 7 2-3 innings and took the loss for the Athletics, who started the night 10 1/2 games back in the AL West. They have lost a season-high six straight and fell a season-worst three games under .500.

For the first time since Sept. 10-17, 1978, the A’s have scored three runs or less in nine straight games. Oakland is hitting .155 during its current losing streak, getting outscored 33-12.

“It’s frustrating, it really is,” said Nick Swisher, who is 1-for-10 in the series. “But sometimes these things happen.”

In his previous two starts, Silva (7-10) allowed 10 earned runs in 10 1-3 innings. But this time he kept the ball down most of the night, striking out four and walking two in 6 2-3 innings. He retired 15 straight hitters at one point, and even snared a liner from Bobby Crosby to end the fifth.

He also got some defensive help, including Nick Punto’s leaping grab that robbed Eric Chavez of a hit in the fifth, and Torii Hunter’s twisting over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track to rob Chavez of extra bases in the seventh.

“Any ball hit straight at you and over your head is tough. I turned one way and it wasn’t there, then I turned the other and it was right in my face and I had to get out of the way to make some room to catch the ball,” Hunter said. “I made it look easy, but I was actually scared.”

That catch came between a walk to Jack Cust and a double by Dan Johnson. Silva left after striking out Mark Ellis, but Mark Kotsay’s double off Dennys Reyes made it 4-3.

“We’re always in there at the very end,” Blanton said. “As long as we keep doing that things will probably turn around.”

Matt Guerrier got out of the seventh and Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless eighth, before Joe Nathan closed it out for his 18th save in 20 chances. It was the first time since April 18-19 that Nathan had save chances in back-to-back games.

“There were opportunities on both sides to score more runs, but there were a lot of good pitches thrown,” said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire.

An RBI by Kotsay gave Oakland a 1-0 lead in the second, but Tyner ended an 0-for-11 skid with an RBI single in the bottom half. A sacrifice fly by Cuddyer gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the third.

Castillo led off the Minnesota fifth with a triple and scored on Mauer’s double. Cuddyer followed with an RBI single.

“You use all your players the best you can and they all have to chip in, play their roles, and come up with some big hits,” Gardenhire said. “Luis Castillo getting on base sets up the table for the middle guys to drive in the runs. Those little things help you win ball games, especially in tight games like this where they are well-pitched.”

Notes

Oakland reinstated OF Travis Buck from the 15-day disabled list and optioned infielder J.J. Furmaniak to Triple-A Sacramento. Buck laid out to rob Justin Morneau of a hit in the fifth inning. … Garrett Jones, recalled Thursday, started at 1B for Minnesota. Morneau was the DH. … Crosby has committed in error in two straight games. He has 13 miscues this season. … Oakland hasn’t dropped six straight since losing seven in a row May 20-26, 2006. … Minnesota is 41-1 when leading after seven innings.

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