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Morneau's two-run homer helps Twins beat A's

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Johan Santana kept retiring batter after
batter, hoping Minnesota's offense would eventually come up with a
big hit.

Oakland's Kirk Saarloos finally made a mistake, and Justin
Morneau took advantage.

Santana pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, Morneau hit a
two-run homer in the eighth to spoil the chance of three straight
shutouts by Oakland and the Twins beat the Athletics 2-1 on Friday
night.

"It was a good night," Santana said. "We were able to battle
through it and stay in the game. I was hoping somebody would hit a
good ball. That's the way I do it: I try to stay consistent."

Santana gave up both hits in the second inning. After Bobby
Kielty's two-out single, Santana retired the final 19 batters he
faced before Joe Nathan finished for his seventh save in as many
chances.

Santana (5-4), the 2004 AL Cy Young Award winner and an All-Star
last season, won for the first time in four starts since beating
the White Sox on May 12. He struck out nine and didn't allow a
walk.

"He's won a Cy Young for a reason," Oakland's Jason Kendall
said.

The A's had gone 25 innings without allowing a run, and Saarloos
appeared in position to follow the feats of Joe Blanton and Barry
Zito who had shutouts before him, but Morneau sent a 1-2 pitch over
the right-field fence for his 11th homer of the season.

Morneau was pleased he could do something to help Santana, who
has struggled to get enough run support.

"He pitches like that every game," Morneau said. "We wasted
one of those earlier in the year. He threw great and you don't want
to give a guy too many losses when he pitches like that."

Frank Thomas homered for the third straight game to give him 461
for his career, but the A's missed a chance at their first
three-game winning streak since five straight victories from May
14-19.

Thomas homered in three straight games for the 20th time in his
career and the first since doing it June 13-17 last year for the
Chicago White Sox.

The Big Hurt is finding his stroke after a slow start with his
new team. He connected for his 13th homer of the year leading off
the second inning, giving him 1,495 RBI to tie him with Gary
Sheffield for 44th place all-time. In addition, with his 922nd
extra-base hit, he moved past Harold Baines and Goose Goslin into
sole possession of 42nd place.

"He's hot," Santana said. "He's a great hitter. He's been
swinging the bat pretty well lately. Make a mistake and you pay for
it."

Santana, who has gone seven or more innings in each of his last
nine starts, had no qualms about not returning for the ninth.
That's because Nathan hasn't allowed a hit in his seven saves.

Saarloos (2-4), who could be headed back to the bullpen once the
A's get injured starters Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza back, lost
his third straight start and fourth in five. The right-hander
retired 16 straight during one stretch before Nick Punto's one-out
single in the sixth.

Saarloos, who had walked 12 batters in his previous two outings,
allowed a walk to Punto to start the game followed by a single to
Luis Castillo. Joe Mauer then grounded into a double play to start
a stretch of eight straight groundballs by the Twins, who weren't
very patient at the plate in the early innings.

Mauer went 0-for-4 and had his career-high 11-game hitting
streak snapped.

It was another quick game at 2 hours, 3 minutes after the A's
won Thursday night's series opener in 1:57. Oakland had its game go
2:07 Wednesday against Kansas City.

"Another two-hour ballgame," said Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire, whose team is 9-3 in one-run games. "This time on the
right side for us. Two great pitching performances. Johan was
super."

Game notes
Thomas has 47 homers and 129 RBI in 165 career games
against the Twins -- and only Reggie Jackson with 51 has more homers
against Minnesota. Thomas is batting .375 (6-for-16) with two
homers against Santana. ... Seven of Thomas' homers this year have
led off an inning. ... Terry Tiffee got the start at designated
hitter for the Twins after being recalled from Triple-A Rochester.
... Torii Hunter grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the
seventh in which replays showed he was safe. Gardenhire hustled out
to argue with first-base umpire Travis Reininger. ... A's RHP
reliever Jay Witasick, on the 15-day DL since April 14 with a
sprained left ankle, pitched two innings in a rehab assignment for
Class-A Stockton at Modesto. He struck out four and allowed one
hit.