OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jay Payton endeared himself to his Oakland teammates and fans in a hurry, and he's been rolling ever since.
"It's been great. I'm having fun just winning," he said after hitting his eighth homer since joining the A's on July 13. "I still felt I could go out and play every day and I had to prove that to myself."
Payton, acquired from the Boston Red Sox, continues to add much-needed right-handed power for the A's. He hit his 13th homer overall, as the A's erased a deficit for the 36th time this year.
"He's been unbelievable," A's outfielder Mark Kotsay. "He's always been a good player and he's given us a huge lift."
Payton voiced his displeasure sitting on the bench in Boston but has been able to enjoy his time in Oakland. The A's have not lost two straight since a week before his arrival.
"That's a nice rebound after being shutout last night and falling behind 2-0 with their pitcher running through us," A's manager Ken Macha said. "To come back shows our resiliency. Jay has really given us a lot. The guy has just been terrific."
Kirk Saarloos (8-6) gave up six hits over six innings to win his third straight decision as the A's remained tied for the AL West lead.
"Pitching six quality innings and handing it over to the bullpen you're looking pretty good," Saarloos said. "They have been lights out down there."
Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer for the Twins, who lost for the fourth time in six games.
Saarloos, making his first appearance against the Twins, solidified his spot in the rotation with another effective outing. The right-hander, who has three or fewer strikeouts in 18 of his 20 starts, took a shutout into the sixth inning before giving up a single to Joe Mauer and Morneau's blast into the right-field bleachers. He walked three and struck out one in improving to 7-2 over his last 11 games.
"I feel just as strong now, if not stronger, than I did at the beginning of the season," Saarloos said. "I've been getting a week off, six days off, and that's helped."
Saarloos retired 14 of the first 16 batters he faced. Kiko Calero, Jay Witasick and Huston Street each pitched a scoreless inning. Street put runners on second and third with walk and a double to open the ninth, but struck out Jason Bartlett, Shannon Stewart and pinch-hitter Terry Tiffee for his 15th save in 19 chances.
Street gave Dennis Eckersley, who had his No. 43 retired before the game, some credit.
"I was exciting all day just knowing he was going to be here," Street said. "I knew I would get a chance to meet him. I felt like with him here we had to win. It was an added bonus. Everybody was excited the whole day."
Joe Mays (5-8) also carried a shutout into the sixth before allowing four runs to lose his fifth straight decision. He gave up six hits in 5 1/3 innings, losing to the A's for the first time in five starts -- spanning nearly three years.
"Payton didn't miss that bad pitch I gave him," Mays said. "I just hung a slider. It seems I make a mistake late in the game and it costs me."
Bobby Crosby's one-out triple paved the way for Oakland's rally. Michael Ryan tried to make a shoestring catch of Crosby's sinking liner but the ball skipped past him and rolled to the right field fence before Lew Ford could track it down.
"He was a bit over eager there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was aggressive with it."
- The Twins placed INF Juan Castro placed on the 15-day DL with right knee tendinitis.
- OF Jacque Jones (strained right oblique muscle) hasn't played since Wednesday and a decision to place him on the DL will likely come on Sunday.
- A's DH Scott Hatteberg was back in the lineup after missing six games with a strain in his right rib cage.
- Eckersley's retirement ceremony helped swell the crowd to a season-high 47,385.
- Minnesota lost its seventh straight day game.
- Twins starters have not won back-to-back games since July 2-4.
- Saarloos is 4-0 in day games, 11-3 lifetime.