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Crisp's homer edges A's closer to West title

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- When center fielder Coco Crisp arrived at the O.co Coliseum on Thursday afternoon, he learned that his teammates chose him as the 2013 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award winner, which goes to the Oakland Athletics' most inspirational player.

Then Crisp went out and showed why he was the perfect pick.

Crisp hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, lifting the A's to an 8-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The A's cut their magic number to win the American League West to four and their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to three.

"That was huge," said A's reliever Sean Doolittle (5-5), who blanked the Twins for the final 1 1/3 innings to earn the win. "He's been such an integral part of our offense all year long. It's no secret what he brings to the table for us. He's our sparkplug. He sets the table. He's stealing bases. He's making things happen on the bases. And his defense.

"Obviously one of the big stories for him this year has been his power. We've been riding him all year, and tonight is just another case of him putting us on his back and getting us a win."

Crisp's home run was his 21st of the year, an ongoing single-season career high. The blast helped the A's salvage a win after the Oakland bullpen blew a 6-3 lead.

Before this year, Crisp's single-season high for home runs was 16, which he hit for the Cleveland Indians in 2005.

"I've just had one of those years," Crisp said. "Don't know if it will ever happen again, but I am grateful. Hopefully it will. It is what it is right now, and I'm grateful that I'm able to do it in a helpful fashion as well."

Crisp wasn't the Athletics' only home run hitter Thursday. Alberto Callaspo hit a solo shot and Jed Lowrie added a three-run homer, both in a four-run sixth when the A's built a 6-3 lead.

The A's have seven hitters with double-digit home runs: Brandon Moss (27), Yoenis Cespedes (24), Josh Donaldson (23), Crisp, Lowrie (13) Josh Reddick (12) and Chris Young (12).

"We definitely have a lot of threats in our lineup, and it takes a lot of pressure off of just one guy being the power supplier," Crisp said.

With the game tied 6-6 in the eighth, Daric Barton worked a leadoff walk off Twins reliever Shairon Martis (0-1). With one out, Crisp launched Martis' 2-1 pitch into the right field seats for his 21st home run of the season.

"He made one bad pitch and it cost him one home run," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

A's rookie right-hander Dan Straily gave up three runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings and got a no-decision, but his four-game winning streak survived.

Twins right-hander Kevin Correia allowed two runs on six hits over five innings but didn't figure in the decision.

The A's trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but they rallied to score four times.

Twins left-handed reliever Ryan Duensing retired the first two batters he faced, but Callaspo, pinch-hitting for Eric Sogard, launched a 3-1 pitch into the left field seats, tying the game. The blast was Callaspo's second career pinch home run and his eighth homer overall this season, three of those since being traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the A's.

After Crisp singled softly to right, Duensing gave way to right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Josh Donaldson lined a single to center, and Lowrie crushed Swarzak's 1-2 pitch over the right-center wall for a three-run homer.

"We kept coming back and finally we got the lead, and they jumped us again," Gardenhire said. "Not only did they jump us -- they hit them in the seats. If we could have kept them in the ballpark, we might have had a better opportunity to win it. It seemed like everyone we brought in gave up home runs tonight."

The Twins cut Oakland's lead to 6-4 in the top of the seventh on Oswaldo Arcia's solo homer to left-center off left-hander Brett Anderson.

In the eighth, Minnesota scored two more runs to pull even. Leading off, Yosmil Pinto singled to center off Ryan Cook and moved to third when Chris Parmelee bounced a single to right. Pinch hitter Chris Herrmann brought Pinto home with a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop, making it 6-5.

After Cook wild-pitched Herrmann to second and then walked Alex Presley, he exited for right-hander Jesse Chavez. Brian Dozier hit a hard ground ball to the hole at shortstop that deflected off the glove of a diving Lowrie for an RBI single, and Herrmann raced home to tie the game.

Chavez struck out Trevor Plouffe, and Doolittle retired Arcia on a fly ball to deep center for the third out.

In the bottom of the eighth, Crisp bailed out the A's bullpen.

"They took care of us when we weren't hitting, and hopefully we can take care of them if they're going through a tough spell as well," Crisp said.

NOTES: Cespedes (right shoulder tendinitis) received a cortisone injection after Wednesday's game and was out of the lineup Thursday. Manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes felt "really good" Thursday, but he wanted to give him a day off. "We're hoping he can play (Friday). Probably DH for a day or two," Melvin said. ... Twins C Joe Mauer (concussion), who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 20, did not make the trip to Oakland with his teammates but worked out Thursday at Target Field after spending three days at home. ... Oakland C John Jaso (concussion) took batting practice Thursday, and he might go to the instructional league in Arizona on Monday to get some at-bats as a DH, Melvin said. Jaso has been on the disabled list since July 25, but Melvin has not ruled out his return this year. ... Plouffe left the game after the top of the eighth with a sore left wrist.
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