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."
|Michael Cuddyer comes up big as the Twins avoid being swept by Oakland. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Jason Tyner, LF||5||2||1||0||1||1||3||.303|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||2||2||0||0||1||0||2||.249|
|Matthew LeCroy, DH||4||0||3||2||1||0||0||.267|
|Michael Ryan, PR-DH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.234|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||5||1||0||1||0||1||6||.239|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF||4||2||4||4||1||0||0||.262|
|Terry Tiffee, 3B||5||0||0||1||0||0||4||.213|
|Chris Heintz, C||4||0||2||1||1||0||2||.333|
|Nick Punto, CF||5||1||1||0||0||3||2||.241|
|Luis Rivas, 2B||4||2||1||0||1||0||1||.260|
|2B - Matthew LeCroy (5, Yabu), Michael Cuddyer 3 (24, Kennedy, Cruz, Witasick), Chris Heintz (3, Kennedy)|
|HR - Michael Cuddyer (12, Kennedy)|
|RBI - Matthew LeCroy 2 (45), Justin Morneau (73), Michael Cuddyer 4 (39), Terry Tiffee (15), Chris Heintz (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matthew LeCroy 2 (23), Michael Cuddyer 3 (15)|
|SB - Jason Tyner (1, 2nd base off Cruz/Kendall), Nick Punto (12, 2nd base off Kennedy/Kendall), Luis Rivas (3, 3rd base off Cruz/Kendall)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Scott Baker (W,2-2)||5||5||3||3||1||3||0||3.16|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 103-66, J.C. Romero 25-15, Jesse Crain 9-7, Juan Rincon 13-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 3-9, J.C. Romero 3-2, Jesse Crain 2-1, Juan Rincon 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Scott Baker 21, J.C. Romero 6, Jesse Crain 4, Juan Rincon 3|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||3||2||1||1||1||0||1||.327|
|Jason Kendall, C||3||0||1||2||0||1||1||.270|
|a- Adam Melhuse, PH-C||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.242|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.282|
|b- Matt Watson, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.136|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.269|
|Jay Payton, LF-CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.271|
|Scott Hatteberg, DH||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.265|
|Bobby Crosby, SS||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.283|
|Dan Johnson, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.279|
|Nick Swisher, RF||2||0||0||1||0||1||1||.234|
|a-grounded out for Kendall in the 8th|
|b-grounded out for Kotsay in the 8th|
|2B - Jason Kendall (26, Baker)|
|HR - Mark Ellis (11, Crain)|
|SF - Nick Swisher (1)|
|RBI - Mark Ellis (49), Jason Kendall 2 (48), Nick Swisher (72)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Kendall 2 (22)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Crosby-Ellis-Johnson|
|Joe Kennedy (L,7-12)||3.1||5||6||6||3||1||1||6.08|
|IBB - Cuddyer by Keiichi Yabu|
|HBP - Bartlett (by Juan Cruz), Bartlett (by Keiichi Yabu)|
|WP - Joe Kennedy (8), Juan Cruz (3), Jay Witasick (5)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Kennedy 85-53, Juan Cruz 42-26, Ron Flores 5-4, Jay Witasick 24-12, Keiichi Yabu 23-11, Jairo Garcia 10-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Kennedy 7-2, Juan Cruz 2-2, Jay Witasick 3-0, Keiichi Yabu 3-0, Jairo Garcia 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Joe Kennedy 18, Juan Cruz 12, Ron Flores 1, Jay Witasick 6, Keiichi Yabu 6, Jairo Garcia 3|
|Attendance - 14927|
|Game Time - 3:02|
|Temperature - 62|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Ed Montague, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Jerry Layne|