MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A.J. Griffin allowed just two hits in seven innings and the Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 Thursday afternoon to increase their division lead heading into a crucial weekend series.
Josh Reddick homered and had three RBIs for Oakland, which has a 3 game lead over idle Texas in the American League West. It is Oakland’s largest lead over the Rangers since Aug. 3. The teams are to scheduled play a three-game series this weekend in the Lone Star State.
Oswaldo Arcia homered for Minnesota, which has lost six of eight.
In winning his fourth straight start, Griffin (14-9) struck out eight and walked just one batter.
Making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A, Minnesota starter Scott Diamond (5-11) allowed five runs — four earned — in 4 2-3 innings.
He struck out six of the first nine batters he faced, including four straight, and lowered his opponents’ batting average to .165 the first time through the lineup, the lowest mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched.
Other than allowing Arcia’s homerun in the seventh, Griffin, who has served up a major league leading 34 homeruns, didn’t have many problems the rest of the way.
Minnesota had two runners on with one out in the fourth, but Arcia lined out to second baseman Alberto Callaspo and Brian Dozier was doubled off first. Dozier had walked.
Making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester, Minnesota starter Scott Diamond (5-11) lasted just 4 2-3 innings. He allowed five runs — four earned — on six hits while striking out one.
Before the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said that Diamond appears to be a much more confident pitcher than he was before his Aug. 1 demotion. In six minor league starts, Diamond was 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA.
The left-hander barely broke a sweat in retiring the A’s in order in the first two innings before the Oakland hitters forced Diamond deep into counts.
One day after scoring 18 runs against the Twins, Oakland used some two-out hitting to take a 4-0 lead in the third inning.
Derek Norris led off with a one-out double and scored two batters later when Coco Crisp hit into a fielder’s choice. After a walk to Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie had an RBI single leading to a mound visit by Minnesota pitching coach Rick Anderson. Yoenis Cespedes then tripled off the wall in centerfield to plate two more runs.
Donaldson added an RBI single in the fifth and Reddick’s sacrifice fly in the sixth scored Chris Young, who tripled to lead off the inning, to make it 6-0.
Reddick hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning to make it 8-1 before Alex Presley had an RBI single for the Twins off Dan Otero.
NOTES: The A’s and Twins are scheduled to play a four-game series in Oakland starting next Thursday. … Cespedes has an RBI in a career-best six straight games. … Minnesota 1B Chris Colabello was hitless in three at-bats and is in an 0-for-14 slump. … Dan Straily (9-7, 4.15) is to get the ball for Oakland Friday when it begins its three-game series at Texas. Derek Holland (9-8, 3.17) will pitch for the Rangers. … Minnesota’s Kevin Correia (9-11, 4.30) is scheduled to face Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (8-7, 3.19) when the teams open a three-game series Friday at Target Field.