Oakland at Minnesota

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Silva takes Twins on smooth ride for easy win over Oakland

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Carlos Silva's trusty sinker is working again, and September was a great time to find it.

Silva threw seven smooth innings, Michael Cuddyer homered and drove in four runs and the Minnesota Twins beat the Oakland Athletics 9-4 Monday night to move within 1½ games of idle Detroit in the AL Central.

"I want to win with the team. I want to celebrate with the team. That's all I'm looking for," said Silva, whose only blemish was a fourth-inning home run by Frank Thomas.

Thomas homered for the sixth straight game, two shy of the major league record, and has 36 this year.

Torii Hunter also went deep and Nick Punto added a two-run single for the Twins, who trailed the Tigers by 12 games at the All-Star break and had not been this close to first place since before play on April 18.

Silva (9-13), who held Tampa Bay to one hit over six shutout innings last week before pulling himself from a game that Minnesota's major league-leading bullpen blew because of an upset stomach, lowered his ERA to 6.08. He has struggled all season, but his last two starts have been the best of the year.

He gave up five hits, one run and one walk while striking out one, impressing his team by finishing a scoreless seventh after the first two batters reached base.

"You it see on his face today. It's a sigh of relief," Cuddyer said. "It's tension-free. He's not down on himself."

First-place Oakland stayed 5½ games ahead of Los Angeles in the AL West. The Chicago White Sox won 3-2 at the Angels and remained 1 ½ games behind the Twins in the wild-card standings.

Joe Blanton (15-11) was the fourth straight starter to have trouble, after Barry Zito, Esteban Loaiza and Dan Haren each gave up four runs or more in outings that lasted six innings or less over the weekend.

Blanton surrendered nine hits, six runs (five earned) and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. After Cuddyer's two-run homer in the fourth, Justin Morneau singled and scored on an error by Eric Chavez. The five-time Gold Glove third baseman bobbled Jason Bartlett's chopper with his bare hand and couldn't throw him out.

Hunter homered leading off the sixth and Punto, after Brad Halsey had replaced Blanton, drove in Jason Tyner and Bartlett with his two-out hit that made it 6-1.

"I feel like I was struggling with my command all night," Blanton said. "It was one of those games I felt I had to fight through every hitter."

Joe Nathan got last four outs for his 31st save, retiring Marco Scutaro on a first-pitch popup with the bases loaded to end the eighth with the tying run at first.

Chavez hit a sacrifice fly earlier in the inning off Jesse Crain, a run charged to Dennys Reyes that ended his scoreless innings streak at 21 1/3. Crain later walked Dan Johnson, forcing in a run and cutting the lead to 6-3.

In the ninth, Nathan walked the bases loaded and gave up a sacrifice fly to Milton Bradley before settling down and finishing the game.

"This club's amazing," A's manager Ken Macha said. "We made Nathan earn that save."

Thomas, who has 98 RBI, talked with Minnesota over the offseason but wasn't offered a contract because of concerns about the health of his ankle on the Metrodome's artificial turf.

An unexpected season by Cuddyer, the new cleanup hitter who was still fighting for a starting job in spring training, has helped make up for at least some of that lost power. He has a career-best 22 homers and 98 RBIs. Cuddyer hit a two-run double off Jay Witasick in the eighth to make it 8-3, and Hunter followed with an RBI groundout.

Notes

  • Oakland's Rich Harden threw a simulated game in the afternoon without pain, and the right-hander -- who has pitched only six times this season first because of a back injury and then due to elbow problems -- will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.
  • Because Rondell White has hit better when he plays in the field, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire used him in left and made Tyner the DH. Tyner has not homered in 1,012 career at-bats. Thomas, by comparison, has 484 homers.
  • After going a career-best seven starts without allowing a home run, Blanton has been taken deep five times in his last three outings.
  • With six homers in six games, Thomas set an Oakland record that he previously shared with George Alusik, Dave Kingman and Matt Stairs.
 
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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Michael Cuddyer needs a little respect after hitting a two-run homer, and Joe Mauer gives him some.  (AP)
Michael Cuddyer needs a little respect after hitting a two-run homer, and Joe Mauer gives him some. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

C. Silva
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 1
K 1
Minnesota

M. Cuddyer
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
 

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Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C4110101
Nick Swisher, LF-1B4000112
Milton Bradley, RF3101100
Frank Thomas, DH5121022
Eric Chavez, 3B3011112
Jay Payton, CF4020001
Dan Johnson, 1B3001103
    Hiram Bocachica, PR-LF0000000
Marco Scutaro, SS4000005
Mark Ellis, 2B3110102
Totals334746418 
Batting
2B - Eric Chavez (, Silva), Jay Payton (, Silva)
HR - Frank Thomas (, Silva)
SF - Milton Bradley (), Eric Chavez ()
RBI - Milton Bradley (), Frank Thomas (), Eric Chavez (), Dan Johnson ()
2-OUT RBI - Dan Johnson ()
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jay Payton 1
DP - Scutaro-Ellis-Johnson
E - Eric Chavez (, Misplayed grounder), Dan Johnson (, Throwing), Jay Payton (, Dropped fly)
Oakland Athletics
Joe Blanton (L,-) 5.1965312
Brad Halsey 0.2100000
Chad Gaudin 1311000
Scott Sauerbeck 0.1020000
Jay Witasick 0.2100110
IBB - Morneau by Jay Witasick
HBP - Mauer (by Scott Sauerbeck)
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 108-61, Brad Halsey 8-5, Chad Gaudin 24-16, Scott Sauerbeck 7-3, Jay Witasick 16-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 11-3, Chad Gaudin 1-2, Jay Witasick 1-0
Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 27, Brad Halsey 3, Chad Gaudin 6, Scott Sauerbeck 3, Jay Witasick 4
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B4000104
Nick Punto, 3B5122001
Joe Mauer, C3210112
Michael Cuddyer, RF5124002
Justin Morneau, 1B4120101
Torii Hunter, CF5122002
Rondell White, LF3020000
    Lew Ford, LF2010012
Jason Tyner, DH3100103
Jason Bartlett, SS4220000
Totals3891484217 
Batting
2B - Michael Cuddyer (, Witasick)
HR - Michael Cuddyer (, Blanton), Torii Hunter (, Blanton)
RBI - Nick Punto 2 (), Michael Cuddyer 4 (), Torii Hunter 2 ()
2-OUT RBI - Nick Punto 2 ()
SB - Luis Castillo (, 2nd base off Blanton/Kendall), Nick Punto (, 2nd base off Halsey/Kendall), Torii Hunter (, 2nd base off Blanton/Kendall)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
E - Justin Morneau (, Misplayed grounder)
Minnesota Twins
Carlos Silva (W,-) 7511111
Dennys Reyes 0.1121110
Jesse Crain 0.1100100
Joe Nathan (S,) 1.1011320
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Silva 93-56, Dennys Reyes 13-6, Jesse Crain 14-7, Joe Nathan 36-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Silva 13-7, Jesse Crain 1-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Silva 27, Dennys Reyes 3, Jesse Crain 4, Joe Nathan 7
Game Information
Attendance - 15728
Game Time - 3:05
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Randy Marsh, First Base - Alfonso Marquez, Second Base - Mike Everitt, Third Base - Tom Hallion