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Twins earn first four-game sweep since August 2006

• Mauer milestone: Mauer's ninth-inning single was the first game-winning hit of his career. The Twins, however, lead the majors with eight walk-off wins this season.

• Anemic A's: The A's have lost seven straight, and have been held to three runs or fewer in 10 straight games.

• Did you know? Former Twins great and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew hosted a dinner in right field following the game to raise money for charity.

• Quotable: "I've never been part of a losing team and I don't want to be part of a losing team. It's not going to be a fun flight home. We've got to gather ourselves because right now we're in a tailspin." -- A's starter Dan Haren

-- ESPN.com news services

Twins 4, A's 3

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Twins' victory over Oakland on Sunday
resembled many of their wins from last season. There was solid
starting pitching, timely hitting and pesky baserunning.

Perhaps that's why many Minnesota players hope their latest game
will start another improbable run to the playoffs.

Joe Mauer singled home the winning run in the ninth inning after
Justin Morneau hit a tying homer in the eighth, and the Twins
completed a four-game sweep of the slumping Athletics with a 4-3
victory Sunday.

"It's kind of feelings of last year at this time," Minnesota
third baseman Nick Punto said. "Guys were coming up with big hits
with a guy on base, and I kind of see signs of last year. Hopefully
we can get on some kind of roll like we did last year."

Eric Chavez homered for the A's, who have lost seven in a row --
their longest skid since also dropping seven straight in late May
last season. They have scored three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive
games, matching a team record set in September 1978.

"We just need to get a little more offense, I guess, to win
games," manager Bob Geren said. "What'd we get, six hits tonight?
Offense is starting to come around, we just need to break out and
get us on the winning track once that gets going. Our pitching has
been pretty good."

Luis Castillo led off the ninth with a triple against reliever
Joe Kennedy (2-8) and trotted home on Mauer's third hit of the
game, which bounced through a drawn-in infield.

Castillo, who normally rests his aching legs on day games after
night games, dashed around the bases to set up the winning run.

"That was pretty impressive," said All-Star center fielder
Torii Hunter, who did not start for Minnesota but pinch-hit in the
eighth. "I didn't think he could run like that anymore, but he
surprised everybody. He was pretty pumped up about it."

Morneau tied the score at 3 with his 25th home run, a shot into
the right-field upper deck off reliever Santiago Casilla. Minnesota
earned its fifth series sweep this season and first four-game sweep
since taking four in a row against Kansas City from Aug. 3-6, 2006.

Dan Haren started for the A's, his first outing since starting
the All-Star game last Tuesday for the AL. The right-hander gave up
two runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out three and
walked three.

"I've never been part of a losing team and I don't want to be
part of a losing team," Haren said. "It's not going to be a fun
flight home. We've got to gather ourselves because right now we're
in a tailspin."

The Twins hope to show the rest of the AL that they're capable
of turning it on the way they did last season. Minnesota won 71 of
its final 104 games in 2006 and captured the AL Central crown on
the season's final day.

"These guys are rejuvenated, ready to go," Hunter said. "We
know what we did last year. We can kind of build off of that."

Added manager Ron Gardenhire: "We can have some fun in the
second half, if we pitch. It's all going to be about our starting
pitching."

Pat Neshek (4-1) worked one inning of relief for the win,
striking out two.

Twins starter Boof Bonser, who hasn't won since June 10, gave up
three runs in 6 1/3 innings. He left the game leading 2-1 with
runners on first and third. It was only the second time in his last
seven outings that he's left with a lead.

Casilla entered the game having allowed only one run in 21
innings this season.

Oakland grabbed a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Travis Buck lined
a two-run single up the middle off reliever Matt Guerrier.

The Twins took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Nick Punto's triple
past diving first baseman Nick Swisher scored Mike Redmond and
Jason Tyner.

Chavez led off the fourth with a 420-foot drive over the
right-center fence.

Minnesota could've held a bigger lead, but stranded six runners
in the first four innings. Minnesota left the bases loaded in the
third and failed to score a runner from third base with less than
two outs in the first and fourth.

Minnesota began a second-half surge toward the playoffs in 2003
by earning a four-game sweep against the A's immediately after the
All-Star break.

The A's hold the majors' best record (376-221) after the
All-Star break since 1999. They'll need a second-half surge of
their own if they hope to contend.

"We're better than we're playing and we know we're better than
we're playing," Haren said. "We're not letting up and we're not
down, but it's the time of year that we have to turn things
around."

Notes

A's left fielder Shannon Stewart singled in the third and
has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games. ... Former Twins great
and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew hosted a dinner in right field
following the game to raise money for charity. ... Twins reliever
Dennys Reyes pitched one scoreless inning. He has yet to allow a
run in 14 appearances since coming off the disabled list on June
14. ... In four appearances out of the bullpen, Kennedy has a 15.75
ERA.