A's pound Twins again

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- One day after the Oakland Athletics pounded the Minnesota Twins, they kept the bats going on Thursday at Target Field.

This time, the A's came out with an 8-2 victory.

Oakland routed Minnesota 18-3 on Wednesday. The A's had 22 hits in that game and they banged out 11 more on Thursday to take the series 2-1.

"I thought we played well this series," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "First game was closely contested and one pitch ends up putting us on the other side of it. Other than that, I think we played well with a lot of focus. Good defense at times, pitching pretty good and we've been swinging the bats. It's been a good time for us here recently."

The A's were aided by a terrific performance from starter A.J. Griffin. He pitched lights out in the early going, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, striking out six of them.

Carrying a one-hitter into the seventh, Griffin finished a terrific line: 97 pitches in seven innings, giving up one run on two hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

"You look at his record and ERA and it means he's having a good year," Melvin said. "There was a period where he wasn't pitching his best, but I don't know who goes through a season unblemished. But he seems to be pitching better now, which is a good sign for us. He's really on it again where you can see his command both sides. He's throwing his changeup a little bit more, his breaking ball is there. Good signs that he's back on top of his game again."

Twins starter Scott Diamond was pitching in his first outing since returning from Class AAA Rochester, and he started strong, retiring his first six batters. But as in earlier performances this season, he didn't hold up.

The tough A's lineup got to him in the third and chased him in the fifth. Diamond threw 93 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned), six hits, with two walks and a strikeout.

"He was good the first two innings, he had the ball and was getting it down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And then we saw the ball starting being elevated. And when the ball started getting elevated it started flying all over the place. He didn't pitch very well except for a few innings."

The A's opened the scoring in the third inning when Derrick Norris doubled to the right corner and Daric Barton singled to left. Diamond nearly got out of the inning when Coco Crisp hit a potential double-play ball to short. But Crisp beat it out and Norris scored.

Diamond then walked Josh Donaldson and gave up a single to Jed Lowrie, scoring Crisp. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a triple off the wall in center, scoring Donaldson and Lowrie for a quick 4-0 lead.

In the fifth, Crisp hit a sharp grounder to third and Trevor Plouffe made a great grab but threw wide of first base. Crisp stole second and then scored on Donaldson's single to left.

After Cespedes hit a shot up the middle, just missing Diamond, the Twins starter was relieved of his duty.

The A's kept hitting in the sixth as Chris Young hit a triple to the right-field wall. He scored on Reddick's sacrifice fly to left. Reddick also hit a two-run homer in the eighth -- his 11th of the season.

The Twins finally got on the board in the seventh when Oswaldo Arica hit his 12th homer of the season over the left-field fence. They added another in the eighth when Plouffe scored on Alex Presley's single. The shutout was avoided but another lopsided loss was not.

"They're a team that can do a lot of things," Gardenhire said. "You better be prepared that they can pitch well, and they're going to have some guys that can do some things. They're a very good baseball team."

NOTES: The A's have used just 18 pitchers this season, which is tied with the Kansas City Royals for the fewest in the majors this year. ... Over the previous 32 games (since Aug. 9), the A's have 48 home runs. Over that span, they lead the majors in homers, slugging percentage (.490) and extra base hits (122). ... The Twins have gone 19-10 against the AL West this season, winning nine of their last 13 games.
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