OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Seth Brown hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning, Sean Murphy followed with a two-run single and the Oakland Athletics ended their four-game losing streak against the Twins, beating Minnesota 5-2 on Tuesday night.
Kevin Smith homered to end a long slump and help Oakland break out of its own offensive funk. The A’s went into the game with the lowest team batting average in the majors (.199) and had scored one run in each of their three previous games.
“I think it’s just what this lineup is capable of every day,” Brown said after the A’s second win in six games. “We’ve been hitting the ball really well the last couple of weeks, and finally seeing them fall tonight was a real positive. It’s something we needed to see.”
Royce Lewis and Gary Sánchez each hit solo home runs for the Twins. After the game Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelii said Lewis will be sent down to the minors to make room for shortstop Carlos Correa coming off the injured list.
With the score tied 2-all, Jed Lowrie drew a walk and Ramón Laureano was hit by a pitch from Josh Winder (2-2). After Brown doubled over the head of right fielder Max Kepler to score pinch-runner Christian Bethancourt, Murphy blooped a hit into short left-center to drive in Laureano and Brown.
Murphy’s soft hit had an exit velocity of 59 mph.
“These guys, they’re grinding and Murph’s one of those guys that grinds,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “To get rewarded on a ball that left the bat at 59 mph, that’s a big bonus. He was strong enough to fist it out there into the outfield for a couple of RBIs.”
The win prevented the Twins from securing their first series win in Oakland since 2011. Minnesota had won all four previous games between the two this season.
Zach Jackson (1-1) retired four batters for his first career win. Dany Jiménez got a pair of fly outs to end the eighth with two on, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.
“As well as he’s been throwing the ball I felt good about bringing him in to finish out the eighth and sending him back out,” Kotsay said. “He’s a workhorse.”
Smith’s second home run of the season put the A’s ahead 2-0 and ended an 0-for-18 skid.
Minnesota cut the lead in half on Royce’s leadoff drive off James Kaprielian in the fifth then tied it on Sánchez’s third home run in five games in the sixth.
Kaprielian had six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
The decision to send Lewis down was a tough one for Baldelii. Lewis hit safely in nine of 11 games with two home runs and five RBIs since being called up when Correa went down May 6.
“That young man is not going to stop working,” Baldelli said. “He’s not going to be any less motivated. I don’t see him changing one bit. He’ll be ready for us when we need him next time around.”
BABY STEPS FOR BUNDY
Twins starter Dylan Bundy came off the COVID-19 list before the game and threw 54 pitches in three innings. Bundy had two walks and three strikeouts, including a 10-pitch whiff of Smith who went down looking after fouling off four consecutive pitches.
“I felt great but mechanically it was a little bit off,” Bundy said. “Everything was kind of up. but I was happy with it.”
The Twins’ RHP Jharel Cotton was designated for assignment to make room for Bundy on the 26-man roster. Cotton spent his first two seasons in the major leagues with the A’s, then played for the Rangers one year before signing with Minnesota as a free agent.
Twins: Correa has missed the past 10 games because of a right middle finger contusion. … CF Byron Buxton was given the night off as part of Minnesota’s plan to manage his playing time while dealing with knee and hip issues.
Twins RHP Sonny Gray (0-1, 3.68 ERA) goes for his first win in four career starts against his former club. Gray won 44 games over five seasons with the A’s. RHP Daulton Jefferies (1-6, 4.84) has lost six consecutive starts, tied for the fourth-longest skid in Oakland history.
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