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Minnesota at Oakland

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Minnesota000102000362
Oakland «10140200x8121

Blanton, Kendall keep A's playoff hopes alive

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mark Ellis and Jason Kendall reached base a combined eight times from the top two spots in Oakland's batting order. Mark Kotsay got aboard three times in the third hole.

Everyone on the Athletics acknowledges such production high in the lineup only leads to success all the way down, which this club will certainly need as it makes a push for the playoffs.

"That's why they're up there," manager Ken Macha said.

Joe Blanton won his third straight start, Kendall drove in three runs to match his season high and the A's beat the Minnesota Twins 8-3 on Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.

Ellis added a two-run single for the A's, who remained 1½ games behind AL West-leading Los Angeles after the Angels held on for a 2-1 win over Texas. Ellis has been Oakland's most dangerous hitter lately, and he followed consecutive three-hit games with another big night.

"It's the same exact approach I've been doing all year," said Ellis, who missed the 2004 season with a shoulder injury. "It's been crunch time for a while now. You go to every stadium in the big leagues and you're going to see scores. You can't help but see the scoreboard. We worry about ourselves."

Nick Swisher homered leading off the sixth for his 20th of the season and Kotsay added an RBI double and a run-scoring single. Kendall finished with three hits, including an RBI double, in a game that started 11 minutes late because of a light rain that required a tarp to be pulled across the field more than an hour before the first pitch.

Even another chase for the playoffs by the low-budget A's hasn't seemed to bring more excitement to the Coliseum, which had another poor night at the gates. The game drew 18,014, a night after 15,262 came out as the A's began a 10-game homestand to conclude their home schedule. Oakland missed the postseason last year for the first time in five years.

Blanton (11-11), who beat Boston's Curt Schilling last Thursday at Fenway Park, allowed more than two runs for only the second time in 12 starts. Jacque Jones hit a two-run homer with none out in the sixth, but Blanton got out of the inning without further damage and that was it for him after 103 pitches.

"I didn't have very good stuff tonight," he said. "I was falling behind."

The rookie allowed three runs and five hits, struck out two and walked three. The burly right-hander also defeated the Twins on Aug. 1 with seven sharp innings.

Francisco Liriano (0-1) didn't last long in his second career start and fourth appearance overall.

The 21-year-old left-hander and former San Francisco Giants prospect allowed a leadoff walk to Ellis followed by Kendall's RBI double, then retired seven straight before running into trouble.

The Twins acquired Liriano from the Giants in a trade that sent catcher A.J. Pierzynski to San Francisco before the 2004 season and also brought closer Joe Nathan to Minnesota.

The A's loaded the bases in the fourth after Jay Payton and Scott Hatteberg walked and Hiram Bocachica reached on an infield single. After Swisher and Marco Scutaro struck out, Ellis hit a two-run single that chased Liriano, and Kendall followed with his own two-run single.

"I threw a good pitch (to Ellis) and he hit it," Liriano said. "That's what I wanted to throw him."

Jones hit his 22nd homer in the sixth and Justin Morneau had an RBI double in the fourth for the Twins, who lost for the 10th time in 14 games. They dropped the series opener 7-6 Monday after rallying for five runs in the ninth.

"That was a real bad baseball game by our baseball team," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Missing cutoff men, missing plays, you can go all over the field. That was real disappointing. You can't just play baseball like that. It isn't taught around here."

Notes

  • Ellis is batting .522 (12-for-23) during a five-game hitting streak.
  • Shannon Stewart's left shoulder causes him so much pain he is unlikely to play again this season. Stewart met with Gardenhire before the game and they decided the Twins left fielder won't play again in 2005 unless Stewart decides his shoulder improves enough that he wants to test it again in a game.
  • A's SS Bobby Crosby was held out of the lineup after landing hard on his fractured left ankle Monday night only hours after being activated from the 15-day DL. "It's sore, but I'll be in there tomorrow," Crosby said.
  • Matthew LeCroy was held out of the Twins' lineup with a sore right big toe.
  • Longtime A's PA announcer Roy Steele, with the club since it moved from Kansas City in 1968, missed his second straight game with a throat illness.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Joe Blanton earns the win despite yielding three runs, five hits and three walks over six innings.  (AP)
Joe Blanton earns the win despite yielding three runs, five hits and three walks over six innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Oakland

J. Kendall
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
Oakland

M. Kotsay
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Minnesota Twins
Jason Tyner, LF4010000 .321
Brent Abernathy, DH4000012 .238
Joe Mauer, C3110103 .304
Jacque Jones, RF4222002 .251
Lew Ford, CF3000112 .260
Justin Morneau, 1B4011012 .241
Michael Cuddyer, 3B4010011 .254
Juan Castro, SS4000012 .264
Luis Rodriguez, 2B3000100 .260
Totals333633514 
Batting
2B - Joe Mauer (26, Witasick), Jacque Jones (21, Blanton), Justin Morneau (20, Blanton)
HR - Jacque Jones (22, Blanton)
RBI - Jacque Jones 2 (68), Justin Morneau (72)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Lew Ford 2 (5, Wild throw)
Minnesota Twins
Francisco Liriano (L,0-1) 3.2666360 7.59
Matt Guerrier 2.1521011 3.65
Travis Bowyer 2100130 1.42
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 93-57, Matt Guerrier 39-24, Travis Bowyer 38-26
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 3-1, Matt Guerrier 2-5, Travis Bowyer 2-1
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 19, Matt Guerrier 13, Travis Bowyer 8
Oakland Athletics
Mark Ellis, 2B4222100 .327
Jason Kendall, C4233100 .270
Mark Kotsay, CF5032022 .283
Eric Chavez, 3B5010014 .271
Jay Payton, LF3110103 .271
Scott Hatteberg, DH3100120 .265
Hiram Bocachica, RF2110010 .222
   a- Dan Johnson, PH-1B2000011 .278
Nick Swisher, 1B-RF4111013 .235
Marco Scutaro, SS4000023 .239
Totals36812841016 
a-grounded out for Bocachica in the 5th
Batting
2B - Jason Kendall (25, Liriano), Mark Kotsay (31, Liriano)
HR - Nick Swisher (20, Guerrier)
RBI - Mark Ellis 2 (48), Jason Kendall 3 (46), Mark Kotsay 2 (80), Nick Swisher (71)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Ellis 2 (20), Jason Kendall 2 (20), Mark Kotsay 2 (32)
CS - Mark Ellis (3, 2nd base by Liriano/Mauer)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Scutaro-Ellis-Johnson
E - Marco Scutaro (9, )
Oakland Athletics
Joe Blanton (W,11-11) 6533321 3.60
Kiko Calero 1000010 3.46
Jay Witasick 2100020 2.87
WP - Jay Witasick (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 103-67, Kiko Calero 8-6, Jay Witasick 19-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 9-7, Jay Witasick 1-3
Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 26, Kiko Calero 3, Jay Witasick 7
Game Information
Attendance - 18014
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 61
Umpires - Home - Jerry Layne, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Ed Montague, Third Base - Tony Randazzo