Outman moves to 4-0 with win over Twins
Down three runs, rookie Josh Outman just kept pitching and maintained his approach. He even struck out Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau back-to-back.
And the offense eventually did its part. Things sure are clicking for the last-place Oakland Athletics these days.
Jack Cust hit a go-ahead solo home run, Jack Hannahan tied the game with a three-run double and the A's extended their best winning streak in three years to seven games with a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
Outman (4-0) recovered from an early deficit to continue an impressive run by the A's young staff.
Outman, one of four rookies in Oakland's rotation, fell behind in the top of the fourth when Carlos Gomez drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk, then Matt Tolbert singled in two runs. After that, Outman retired the final seven batters he faced.
The A's tied it in the bottom of the fourth and went ahead on Cust's homer off Luis Ayala (1-2) in the fifth.
A's starters have a seven-game winning streak, the longest since a stretch of eight consecutive victories by the starters from June 8-16, 2006.
"It's unbelievable," Hannahan said. "Since we've been winning, during the streak they've been doing a great job."
Oakland's Aaron Cunningham sustained a concussion in the fourth inning after being hit in the head by a pitch and was taken to a nearby hospital for a CT scan.
Twins starter Anthony Swarzak hit Cunningham square in the helmet and knocked it off his head, and the ball sailed high in the air. Cunningham dropped to one knee and athletic trainer Steve Sayles and manager Bob Geren rushed out.
After several minutes, Cunningham stayed in the game and slowly went to first. Hannahan cleared the bases with his double two pitches later. Gregorio Petit replaced Cunningham in the top of the fifth.
"He looked like he was OK. That's why we let him run the bases," Geren said. "Obviously, he took a pretty good blow to the head. The doctor examined him immediately and recommended he come out."
Swarzak said the ball just got away from him, and he struggled to find the strike zone all night.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was frustrated to see his team take the lead then give it right back.
"One hit should not be three runs. When you score, you need to get out and get zeros," he said. "We come out and throw nine straight balls. ... It wasn't exactly like he was locating the ball before (hitting Cunningham). Hitting a guy like that is a very scary play. He was throwing the ball all over the place."
Outman struck out seven and walked two in six innings, allowing four hits. Four relievers combined for three scoreless innings, including Andrew Bailey pitching the ninth for his fifth save in eight chances.
Morneau struck out in each of his first three at-bats for his first three-strikeout game since July 18, 2007, against the Detroit Tigers. Brendan Harris had his career-best 12-game hitting streak snapped.
"I always make sure I know what I want to do with the big hitters in the lineup," Outman said.
Oakland's seven-game winning streak is the longest current run in the majors and the A's longest since getting 10 straight victories from June 8-18, 2006.
Twins third baseman Joe Crede was in manager Gardenhire's original lineup, but the training staff advised the skipper to give Crede a day to rest and recover after he fouled a ball off his left calf Sunday at Seattle.
Gardenhire himself was banged up with a tender right hamstring that he hurt shagging balls during early batting practice Friday at Safeco Field. Pitching coach Rick Anderson went to the mound for pitching changes - something Gardenhire planned beforehand and did other times in recent days.
"We don't have time (for me to do it)," Gardenhire said. "I'll start getting pace of game warnings. I get them already. I'm walking, but I'm not walking fast."
Oakland INF Bobby Crosby was away from the team to be with wife, Gina, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Tyler Joseph, on Monday. ... The A's have outscored opponents 42-11 during their winning streak. ... Minnesota is 7-19 away from the Metrodome. ... 1B Daric Barton made his season debut in the eighth for the A's after being called up earlier in the day.