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Oakland at Minnesota

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Oakland (57-58)000000000030
Minnesota (67-50) «00100001x280

Twins 2, Athletics 0

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Duensing has done it all on the mound for the Minnesota Twins except be their closer, a remarkable versatility that helped stabilize the rotation when it was needed most.

The Twins have seen a career track like this before -- by a certain two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Duensing pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game, outdueling Trevor Cahill and leading the Twins past the Oakland Athletics 2-0 on Saturday.

"He saved our tails," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Joe Mauer, batting an even .500 over his last seven games, had three more hits including an RBI single in the eighth to give Duensing a cushion he didn't need. The Twins, 18-5 in their last 23 games, stretched their lead over the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central to two games.

Cahill (12-5) matched a modern major league record with his 20th straight start of five innings or more and allowing six hits or fewer. Nolan Ryan did the same in 1972-73 for the California Angels.

But Duensing was a step ahead of him, breezing through the light-hitting A's lineup after an inefficient start. He threw 104 pitches on a night when three right-handed relievers, including closer Matt Capps, were off limits except for emergency because their arms needed rest.

The third-round draft pick of the Twins in 2005, Duensing showed promise as a rookie -- spot starting as an injury replacement and handling the long role in the bullpen. This season he was a situational lefty who got more and more work in late-game jams as he showed his capability, before Nick Blackburn was sent to Triple-A and a spot opened in the rotation.

"I think it's more challenging physically for the arm, but a lot of that comes from being mental, too," Duensing said of the back and forth between starter and reliever. "If you can tell yourself your arm's ready, then it will be."

The Twins plan to bring Blackburn back, but Gardenhire insisted Duensing's spot is safe.

"We like to have too much pitching," the manager said.

Duensing had help from two double plays in the first three innings. He also got a pickoff at second base of Rajai Davis right after the speedy outfielder stole his 36th base. After going 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position the night before, the A's had only one man reach second base -- and that was Davis, who promptly lost his place.

"Didn't hit a whole heck of a lot of balls hard. When we did, they were right at people," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It was not a very good offensively performance. Not at all."

Duensing posted a 1.67 ERA in 39 appearances as a reliever. He is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts since the switch, raising his career record as a starter to 8-1.

With a deceptive delivery and sharp breaking balls, Duensing can be more effective as a starter with the chance to mix up more of his pitches. That's the same situation Johan Santana was in, when the Twins finally moved him from the bullpen to the rotation in 2003, a year before he won his first Cy Young Award.

"Johan, that's probably a good guy to look at," Gardenhire said, making the comparison.

Though their offense is lacking a lot, pitching is not a problem for the A's with Cahill leading their rotation. He surrendered just one run on six hits and a walk in seven innings. Cahill struck out five, though his streak of 28 straight innings without an earned run ended when the Twins used a vintage manufacturing of a run in the third to take an early lead.

Alexi Casilla doubled and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Denard Span. Orlando Hudson drove the first pitch he saw high and deep enough to left field to allow Casilla to jog home for the early lead.

But Cahill, the 22-year-old All-Star who has given the A's plenty of reasons to be excited in his second major league season, was in command throughout his outing.

"You could really see the power of his sinker up close," Geren said. "It's something special. It really is."

The win would have been nice, but matching Ryan's record was cool, too. "It's something kind of special. A record with Nolan Ryan? Yeah, I'd be glad to share it," Cahill said.

Notes

Gardenhire said SS Nick Punto (hamstring) would probably be activated after Sunday's game. J.J. Hardy (wrist) is available to play, but the Twins would prefer to wait until Tuesday when they start another critical three-game series against the White Sox. ... Oakland rookie Chris Carter is still looking for his first major league hit. He's 0 for 16 with seven strikeouts.

 
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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Players of the Game
Minnesota

B. Duensing
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 2
K 4
Minnesota

J. Mauer
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Oakland Athletics
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Coco Crisp, CF4010001 .271
Daric Barton, 1B4000011 .272
Kurt Suzuki, C1000200 .255
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B3000002 .259
Mark Ellis, 2B3000001 .267
Rajai Davis, RF3010000 .278
Jack Cust, DH3000021 .282
Chris Carter, LF3000010 .000
Steve Tolleson, SS3010000 .286
Totals2703024  
Batting
SB - Rajai Davis (36, 2nd base off Duensing/Mauer)
PK - Rajai Davis (2, Duensing)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Ellis-Tolleson-Barton, Kouzmanoff-Ellis-Barton
Oakland Athletics
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Trevor Cahill (L,12-5) 7611150 2.50
Craig Breslow 1211010 3.23
Pitches-Strikes - Trevor Cahill 107-67, Craig Breslow 15-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Trevor Cahill 9-6, Craig Breslow 2-0
Batters Faced - Trevor Cahill 27, Craig Breslow 5
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF3120000 .270
Orlando Hudson, 2B3011001 .286
Joe Mauer, C4031000 .328
Jason Kubel, RF4000025 .264
    Jason Repko, RF0000000 .291
Michael Cuddyer, 1B3000114 .273
Jim Thome, DH3000020 .265
Delmon Young, LF3000011 .316
Danny Valencia, 3B3010000 .318
Alexi Casilla, SS3110001 .279
Totals2928216  
Batting
2B - Denard Span (18, Breslow), Alexi Casilla (6, Cahill)
SF - Orlando Hudson (2)
SH - Denard Span (6)
RBI - Orlando Hudson (31), Joe Mauer (63)
SB - Michael Cuddyer (5, 2nd base off Cahill/Suzuki)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Cuddyer-Casilla, Hudson-Cuddyer
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Brian Duensing (W,6-1) 9300240 2.00
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Duensing 101-59
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Duensing 8-12
Batters Faced - Brian Duensing 29
Game Information
Attendance - 40830
Game Time - 2:15
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Tim McClelland, First Base - Mike Everitt, Second Base - Andy Fletcher, Third Base - Adrian Johnson