OAKLAND, Calif. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn't one for team meetings or speeches at this stage. He will send his players out for the final 11 days of this disappointing season and just observe who's still giving their all.
And, the skipper hopes, maybe Minnesota will shake up the playoff picture in the process.
The A's fell 2½ games behind first-place Los Angeles in the AL West. The Angels beat Texas 6-5 in a late game.
"This was a good win for us," said Gardenhire, whose club is already eliminated from postseason contention after winning the AL Central the past three years. "To come out and score some runs and get a lead, we haven't done that very often. It was fun. The guys got to run the bases."
Cuddyer finished with a career-high four hits and homered against Oakland for the fifth time this season. After his solo shot in the second inning, he followed with three doubles for his third career four-RBI game. He was intentionally walked in the eighth.
Matthew LeCroy added three hits and two RBI for Minnesota, which had lost five of six. The Twins tagged Joe Kennedy in taking a 7-0 lead in the fifth, and avoided a three-game sweep.
"Cuddyer killed us all year. He was pretty much a one-man wrecking crew," A's manager Ken Macha said.
Scott Baker (2-2) pitched five effective innings to win for the first time in five starts. He retired 12 of the first 14 batters he faced, allowing a one-out single to Jay Payton in the second and a leadoff single by Dan Johnson in the third.
Bobby Crosby returned to Oakland's lineup after sitting out Tuesday to rest his fractured left ankle. He singled and scored in Oakland's three-run fifth, when Jason Kendall added a two-run double and Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly.
Mark Ellis homered leading off the A's eighth for his 11th of the year.
A's center fielder Mark Kotsay became defensive when someone suggested Oakland didn't exhibit the kind of energy most would expect in the middle of a late-season pennant race.
"We didn't come out flat," Kotsay said. "They came out and swung the bats well. How can a team come out flat when we know what's on the line? It's Sept. 21 and we're 1½ games out. They jumped out on us and never let up. They kept their foot on our neck and never let us breathe."
Kennedy (3-4) didn't last long in his sixth start for Oakland. He allowed six runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.
The lefty, who joined the A's in a trade with Colorado on July 13, began as a reliever with the team and then moved into the rotation Aug. 27. After winning his first start at Baltimore, he has gone 0-4 in five outings -- the losing streak is his worst since dropping four in a row last year with the Rockies.
Kennedy's poor performance shows just how much the A's miss right-hander Rich Harden, sidelined since Aug. 19 with a strained muscle in the back of his throwing shoulder. Harden began the year as the team's No. 2 starter behind Barry Zito, but he might not pitch again this season.
The Twins loaded the bases in the third when Jason Tyner and Jason Bartlett drew consecutive one-out walks, then LeCroy singled. Justin Morneau drove in a run with a grounder, and Cuddyer followed with his sharp double to left.
Cuddyer hit a solo homer in the second, his 12th. While he would have liked to get another chance at the plate to try for five hits, Cuddyer insists he's just determined to help the Twins finish strong.
"We've got a lot of things to play for," he said. "We want to finish .500."
- Twins RHP Brad Radke has officially decided to shut it down for the year to let his troublesome throwing shoulder heal. RHP Joe Mays, demoted to the bullpen early last month, will pitch in Radke's place Saturday at Chicago.
- LeCroy, the Twins' DH, was back in the lineup after missing Tuesday's game with a sore right big toe.
- Harden's time is running out to return this year. "I view the whole thing as the window is getting smaller," Macha said. Harden is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Friday following the team's day off Thursday.
- Longtime A's PA announcer Roy Steele missed his third straight game with a throat problem.
- A's OF Bobby Kielty should be able to start Friday against Texas LHP Kenny Rogers. Kielty has been out since Sept. 4 with a strained right oblique muscle.
- Tyner, playing in place of injured LF Shannon Stewart, stole his first base in the sixth on a double steal that also included Luis Rivas' third stolen base of the year.