Athletics-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The All-Star break didn't slow the Oakland Athletics, and a thumb injury isn't posing a problem for Yoenis Cespedes.

He'll try to keep the A's hot Sunday as they look to complete a three-game road sweep of the Minnesota Twins for the first time in more than 12 years.

Oakland (45-43) entered the break winning six of seven, and has picked up right where it left off by beating Minnesota 6-3 on Friday and 9-3 on Saturday.

The A's have swept one road series this season, taking all three games at Colorado from June 12-14. It's been much longer since they accomplished that feat at Minnesota (36-51). Oakland last swept a series there April 28-30, 2000, at the Metrodome.

The A's are also trying to move three games above .500 for the first time since they were 29-26 on June 3, 2010.

Cespedes has four hits in this series as a designated hitter after a sprained left thumb forced him out of last Sunday's win over Seattle. He sparked Saturday's victory with two hits and three RBIs - two on his 10th homer of the year.

Fellow rookie Chris Carter had a three-run homer Saturday, and is 8 for 24 with four homers and eight RBIs in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento last month.

The A's only loss in their last nine games came with Jarrod Parker (5-4, 2.86) on the mound, and he'll get a chance to redeem himself Sunday.

The rookie right-hander was hit hard July 7, giving up a season high-tying six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-1 loss to Seattle. He had been 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his previous four starts.

"He's been so good for so many starts that you just kind of take things for granted that he's going to go out there and do that," catcher Kurt Suzuki told the A's official website.

Parker was impressive in his only meeting with the Twins on May 29. He scattered four hits and four walks in six scoreless innings before Brian Fuentes wasted the effort by serving up a three-run, walkoff homer to Josh Willingham.

Willingham continues to feast on the A's after hitting career highs of 29 homers and 98 RBIs last year while playing for them. After joining the Twins via free agency, he is 8 for 18 with five homers and 11 RBIs in five meetings with his former club.

All of those home runs have come during a four-game streak after he connected for a solo shot Saturday, making him the first Twin to homer in four straight games against Oakland since Harmon Killebrew in 1969.

The last Twins player to go deep in five consecutive games against the A's was Don Mincher in 1964, when the Athletics were located in Kansas City.

Minnesota will give the ball to Brian Duensing (1-5, 4.11), who is taking the mound for the first time since he bruised his left ankle July 4. The left-hander was hit by Alex Avila's sharp grounder and left with one out in the fifth inning. He allowed two runs and four hits in a 5-1 loss at Detroit.

Duensing has lost all three of his starts with a 7.15 ERA after making his first 30 appearances of the season out of the bullpen. However, he's 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six career games against Oakland, winning both of his starts while throwing 16 scoreless innings.

His most recent start against the A's was one of his two career complete games, a three-hitter Aug. 14, 2010.

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