MINNEAPOLIS — Danny Valencia’s questionable decision wound up leading to a loss for Minnesota.
That’s the way this woeful season has been playing out for the Twins. Even their former teammates have been taking advantage of them.
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Coco Crisp snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run single after Valencia started the decisive rally, and the Oakland Athletics ended a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Monday.
Kendall Graveman (4-6) stopped a recent slide by the A’s rotation, allowing three hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings. Twins starter Ricky Nolasco (3-7) was on track to top him, but the momentum shifted in the seventh.
Valencia’s leadoff double halted his 0-for-17 slump, and he aggressively reached third on a grounder to shortstop when Eduardo Nunez’s high throw after a slight hesitation was a hair late. Valencia was called out on the field, but the replay challenge by A’s manager Bob Melvin brought a reversal after review.
"I think that a good throw," Twins manager Paul Molitor said, "and he’s probably out by a fair margin."
Valencia’s foot hit the base barely before Miguel Sano’s tag on the back.
"I felt I was safe the whole time. Just trying to be aggressive out there," said Valencia, a 19th-round draft pick by the Twins in 2006 who played for them in parts of three seasons. The A’s are his fifth team since Minnesota traded him in 2012.
Suddenly, the roll that Nolasco was on screeched to a stop. Stephen Vogt’s single drove in Valencia to tie the game, and Nolasco was removed for Taylor Rogers. With two outs, Crisp smacked a single up the middle on the fourth two-strike pitch he faced. Second baseman Brian Dozier made a diving attempt but just missed.
"Just tried to get deep in the game," said Nolasco, who has lasted at least five innings in 16 of his 17 starts this season.
The Twins, after totaling 24 hits in their previous two games, managed only four. That included a two-out triple by Eddie Rosario in the ninth, but Ryan Madson recovered from that hit and a walk to earn his 16th save in 19 attempts.
"Not enough offense," Molitor said, repeating a lament he’s expressed many times this year.
Rookie reliever Ryan Dull was the bridge between Graveman and Madson, and the right-hander breezed through four batters.
Dull retired Nunez on a fielder’s choice after a slick play by shortstop Marcus Semien. That stretched Dull’s record streak of inherited runners stranded to 36 since the start of the season. That’s the longest in major league history since the expansion era began in 1961, according to the A’s. Opponents have one hit in 47 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Dull this year.
Joe Mauer, who entered in a 4-for-36 slump, had two hits and a walk for the Twins in his first multihit game in almost two weeks. The double was only his eighth of the season.
The Twins optioned LHP Buddy Boshers to Triple-A Rochester after the game to make room for RHP Trevor May, who will be reinstated from the DL before Tuesday’s game. May has missed 23 games with a lower-back injury and started a rehab assignment a week ago.
Backup INF Eduardo Escobar’s sore hamstring will likely keep him out until Thursday, but he is expected to avoid the DL.
Oakland rookie left-hander Sean Manaea (3-4, 5.40 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday in the middle game of the series, opposite Minnesota LHP Tommy Milone (0-2, 6.23). Manaea beat the Twins last month with eight strikeouts in six innings and only one run allowed. Milone, who won 31 games for the A’s over 2 1/2 seasons until he was acquired by the Twins in 2014, has not finished the fourth inning in two starts since arriving from Triple-A Rochester.