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A's offense quiet as Minnesota beats Oakland to prevent sweep

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(OAKLAND) -- Oh well, winning three of four is never a bad thing, especially when your fifth starter is taking on the other team's top starter.

But the Oakland Athletics won't find any solace in that caveat, especially after knowing that former teammate Yoenis Cespedes' three-run home run in the eighth inning helped the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels today: thus, the A's wasted a chance to gain another game on the Angels as they head into a tough seven-game road trip.

Luke Gregerson made it two straight games now for the bullpen surrendering runs after the relief corps had been so stingy in the last few weeks: the Minnesota Twins scored the winning run in the top of the eighth inning today, on a RBI double by former A's catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Another former Oakland player—Josh Willingham—added injury to insult by connecting on a two-run home run off Gregerson, who hadn't given up a run since June 25.

Thus, Oakland lost for the first time in 13 games against the Twins, by the final score of 6-1.

(We'll forget the ninth inning happened, but based on the final score, draw your own conclusions.)

Wasted opportunity, for sure, but the A's recover from these things well enough, as we've seen in the past few years. But this still stung: Oakland only mustered four hits and one walk off Twins starter Phil Hughes, scoring one run in the first inning. Stephen Vogt almost hit a three-run home run in that first inning, but the ball was foul. Vogt then drove in the A's only run with a single.

It was that kind of day for the A's: you can't win 'em all. Three times this year, Oakland has taken the first three games of a four-game set at home, and only once did the club complete the four-game sweep (against Boston). But as any baseball fan knows, even the worst teams win one of three, so the A's did what they needed to in this series against the last-place Twins.

The truly good news of the day was that Jason Hammel delivered his second straight quality start for Oakland, pitching 6.1 innings and allowing only Brian Dozier's first-inning, solo home run. Hammel struck out five batters and gave up only six base runners total (four hits and two walks).

He seems to be coming around, perhaps, to his new digs, and the A's like having that "ace" in their back pockets right now.

At 72-45, Oakland still has the best record in baseball, but this next week will be a big test for the team: four games in Kansas City against the red-hot Royals (winners of seven straight now) who just took two of three in Oakland last weekend, and then three games in Hotlanta against the Braves, still chasing a National League wild-card spot and the NL East division title.

If the A's can win three or four on that road trip and come back home with a three-game lead still in the American League West, it'll be a good thing: they host the Angels for three games on August 22-24.

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