OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mike Sweeney has long maintained the motto of controlling what he can. That's why he refuses to worry about whether the Oakland Athletics might sign Frank Thomas and send him out.
Sweeney returned to the starting lineup for the first time in six games and ended a 39-game homerless streak spanning 140 at-bats with a solo shot in the eighth inning, helping Oakland to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Sweeney also had an RBI single and scored Oakland's first run.
His drive into the left-field seats on the first pitch from Matt Guerrier was his first home run since last June 8 for Kansas City against Philadelphia -- the longest home run drought of his 14-year career.
"It felt good to fill that column," Sweeney said. "Now I have to fill that stolen base and triple column. It might not come this year, but it's good to have goals. The best thing about tonight was the win."
There was speculation swirling after the game that Thomas might be returning to Oakland, after Toronto released the disgruntled designated hitter Sunday.
Messages left for A's general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst were not immediately returned.
Chad Gaudin (2-1) went seven innings and retired 11 straight and 18 of 19 during one stretch on the way to his second straight victory. The right-hander was efficient, too, throwing only 84 pitches. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter for the first time in four starts.
Gaudin was slowed during spring training while rehabilitating from offseason hip and foot surgery and started the season on the disabled list. He returned April 8 -- and this was among his best career outings.
He allowed a leadoff infield single to Denard Span to start the game and not another hit until Jason Kubel's one-out single in the fifth. Then Delmon Young singled with two outs in the seventh for Minnesota's third hit. Kubel crushed a ball moments later but it landed just foul in the right-field seats before he singled for the fourth hit off Gaudin. Both runners advanced on Emil Brown's error in right, but Gaudin got Craig Monroe on a high popup for the third out.
"It was one of the best outings I've seen him," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It reminded me of the first half he had last year. He's throwing at both sides of the plate with all his pitches. He didn't do that much last year."
The A's ended a five-game losing streak in the series and snapped Minnesota's three-game winning streak with their first shutout of the year. The Twins were blanked for the third time.
Oakland's pitching staff entered play Wednesday with an American League-low 3.39 ERA, and Gaudin did his part. Alan Embree struck out two in a perfect eighth and Huston Street allowed two singles before finishing the six-hitter for his sixth save in seven chances. The A's lowered their team ERA to 3.24.
The A's went ahead 1-0 against Boof Bonser (1-4) in the second on Brown's sacrifice fly. Sweeney drew a leadoff walk in the inning and Jack Cust followed with a single before Brown's fly ball to center.
Sweeney started at designated hitter after missing time with a right knee injury, including all three games last weekend against his former team. He got a pinch-hit single in the ninth Tuesday night off Joe Nathan, then had another big performance to show why he's been the Twins' nemesis for so long.
Sweeney owns a .335 career average against Minnesota with 23 homers and 104 RBI in 132 games.
"Sweeney seems to have some good swings against us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We pitch him inside, we pitch him outside. He hits a bullet to right and he hits a home run. Sweeney's a good hitter and always has been a good hitter. When he's healthy and he has a bat in his hands he's very dangerous."
Sweeney chuckled at his success against the Twins, saying, "We've been playing against them a long time."
Bonser, coming off a loss to Tampa Bay in which he was chased after only four innings, settled down in the fourth and allowed two runs on three hits in six innings, struck out two and doubled his season walk total with a season-high four.
"I had some mechanical problems that we figured out in the fourth and finally got going. It was just like I was rusty a little bit," Bonser said. "I'm here to win ballgames. I'm not here to see how many quality starts I can rack up."
Gardenhire sat center fielder and leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez for the first time this season after he went 0-for-5 Tuesday night.
"Last night he looked like he was trying to hit the ball to the moon," the skipper said.
Twins RF Michael Cuddyer, on the DL since April 5 after dislocating his right index finger sliding into third base, had seven at-bats in the Gulf Coast League and will play in a simulated game Thursday. He is scheduled to rejoin the Twins on Friday and be activated. ... The A's claimed speedy OF Rajai Davis off waivers from San Francisco and he will join the team Thursday.