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Oakland at Minnesota

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Zito baffles Twins as A's continue their summer sizzle

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Barry Zito and the Oakland Athletics have been streaking all summer.

Zito pitched eight strong innings to win his eighth consecutive start, and Eric Chavez singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth to help the A's beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 Thursday.

"He had a lot of life in his arm," Oakland manager Ken Macha said of Zito. "That's one of his better outings. He had everything going."

Zito (11-8) allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out eight and walking two. He hasn't lost since June 17 against Philadelphia.

"Not very many teams have been very good against him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 12th save. He tied Rollie Fingers for most saves by a rookie in franchise history.

Oakland is 34-8 in its past 42 games after taking three of four in Minnesota. The A's entered the day two games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and three games ahead of the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.

The A's have made a habit of late-season surges in recent years, but Zito said this year's turnaround is the best he's seen.

"The clubhouse chemistry is better than it's ever been since I got here in July 2000," he said. "The team has just been unreal."

Oakland trailed Minnesota by 12½ games for the wild card on June 11. But after Thursday's victory, the A's lead the struggling Twins by six.

Minnesota has lost seven of eight and 11 of 14.

"It's been a little bit of a struggle for a while now," Twins starter Kyle Lohse said. "You can't go out there and hit yourself in the head every time you have games like this."

Lohse pitched seven innings and allowed two runs and seven hits. He hasn't earned a win in his past six starts.

"He threw the ball real well," Gardenhire said. "He went right at their hitters."

Dan Johnson, a rookie who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, hit a go-ahead homer leading off the seventh for the A's. He extended his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .368 since the All-Star break.

Chavez, who also hit a solo homer, singled off reliever J.C. Romero with one out in the eighth to drive in Jason Kendall from third and give Oakland a 3-2 lead.

Kendall was hit by a pitch from reliever Jesse Crain (9-2) to start the inning.

"You get yourself up a creek right then, as soon as you do that," Gardenhire said.

Kendall moved to second on a wild pitch. Nick Swisher flied to left and Bobby Crosby followed with an infield single to advance Kendall to third. Romero came in to face Chavez.

Oakland tacked on two more runs in the ninth off Juan Rincon on an RBI double by Swisher and a sacrifice fly by Crosby.

The Twins tied the score at 2 when Jacque Jones scored from first on Justin Morneau's two-out double to right-center in the seventh inning. Zito struck out Michael Cuddyer to end the threat, making Minnesota hitless in its past 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Zito, the AL pitcher of the month for July, was perfect through four innings, but Matthew LeCroy hit a line-drive homer to left on his first pitch of the fifth to tie the score at 1.

The Twins threatened to take the lead when Jones followed with a walk and Morneau a single to put runners on first and second. But Zito got out of the jam by striking out Cuddyer and inducing Mike Redmond to hit into a double play.

Zito, whose big, looping curveball was in fine form, struck out six of his first nine batters.

"I thought Barry had command from the first pitch on all of his stuff," Macha said.


  • In his last 10 games, Chavez is 13-for-38 (.342) with three homers and 10 RBI. He has 18 homers this season, six since the All-Star break.
  • Crosby went 2-for-4 to break out of a 3-for-30 slump.
  • The Twins are 7-38 when scoring three runs or fewer.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Barry Zito allows two runs on four hits in eight innings, improving to 11-8. (AP)
Barry Zito allows two runs on four hits in eight innings, improving to 11-8. (AP)

Players of the Game

E. Chavez
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1

B. Zito
IP 8.0
H 4
ER 2
BB 2
K 8

Related Video

Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C4210010 .274
Nick Swisher, RF5021001 .256
Bobby Crosby, SS4021001 .288
Eric Chavez, 3B5122033 .273
Dan Johnson, 1B3111100 .319
Bobby Kielty, LF3000113 .274
Scott Hatteberg, DH4020004 .280
Jay Payton, CF4010011 .271
Marco Scutaro, 2B4110002 .253
2B - Nick Swisher (21, Rincon)
HR - Eric Chavez (18, Lohse), Dan Johnson (8, Lohse)
SF - Bobby Crosby (1)
RBI - Nick Swisher (54), Bobby Crosby (25), Eric Chavez 2 (66), Dan Johnson (28)
2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez (15)
SB - Eric Chavez (3, 2nd base off Romero/Redmond)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Crosby-Scutaro-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Barry Zito (W,11-8) 8422281 3.65
Huston Street (S,12) 1000030 1.33
Pitches-Strikes - Barry Zito 96-61, Huston Street 17-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Barry Zito 10-5
Batters Faced - Barry Zito 29, Huston Street 3
Minnesota Twins
Shannon Stewart, LF4000001 .277
Juan Castro, 2B-SS4000011 .245
Lew Ford, CF4000020 .249
Matthew LeCroy, DH3121010 .265
    Nick Punto, PR-DH1000010 .249
Jacque Jones, RF3100111 .266
Justin Morneau, 1B3021010 .254
Michael Cuddyer, 3B3000033 .264
Mike Redmond, C3000001 .259
Jason Bartlett, SS2000010 .225
   a- Michael Ryan, PH0000100 .224
    Luis Rodriguez, 2B0000000 .282
a-walked for Bartlett in the 8th
2B - Justin Morneau (15, Zito)
HR - Matthew LeCroy (10, Zito)
RBI - Matthew LeCroy (25), Justin Morneau (52)
2-OUT RBI - Justin Morneau (25)
Team LOB - 3
DP - Castro-Bartlett-Morneau, Cuddyer-Castro-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Kyle Lohse 7722132 4.38
Jesse Crain (L,9-2) 0.1111000 3.00
J.C. Romero0100100 2.90
Juan Rincon 1.1322020 2.88
Terry Mulholland 0.1000010 5.79
IBB - Johnson by J.C. Romero
HBP - Kendall (by Jesse Crain)
WP - Jesse Crain (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Lohse 101-71, Jesse Crain 17-10, J.C. Romero 5-1, Juan Rincon 29-21, Terry Mulholland 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Lohse 13-3, Juan Rincon 1-1
Batters Faced - Kyle Lohse 27, Jesse Crain 3, J.C. Romero 2, Juan Rincon 7, Terry Mulholland 1
Game Information
Attendance - 25154
Game Time - 2:33
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - John Hirschbeck, Second Base - Wally Bell, Third Base - Lance Barksdale