Suzuki's pinch-hit double hands A's rare back-to-back win

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Frank Thomas got a chuckle out of the realization his Oakland Athletics had finally strung consecutive wins together. It had been too long ago to remember the last time.

"That's what we were laughing about: two in a row, whoo!" the Big Hurt said. "Three out of four, whoo!"

Pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki doubled in the winning run with one out in the ninth inning and the A's beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Thursday night to win back-to-back games for first time since July 10-11.

"I was just kind of looking in one zone for a pitch to hit," Suzuki said. "You always want to be in that spot to be able to drive in the winning run. Any time you can get a hit like that it's fun."

Joey Devine (4-0) pitched the eighth to pick up the victory for the A's, who went 40 games without a winning streak. Suzuki's double marked Oakland's ninth walkoff hit of the season and just the 11th victory since the All-Star break for the hapless A's.

"That's how you get on a roll," Thomas said. "We've been through some tough times the last month and a half. We didn't play well or swing the bat well. That's part of it. Tonight we got some big hits. That's contagious. When everybody is struggling at the same time, that's contagious, too."

Ryan Sweeney led off the ninth with a single off loser Craig Breslow (0-2), then moved to second on Daric Barton's sacrifice. Suzuki hit a 3-1 pitch from Jesse Crain off the wall in left-center.

"I know he's always going to give me a good at-bat and that's all you can ask for when a guy comes off the bench cold," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He's had success this year and confidence grows from that."

Barton hit a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth for the A's only to see Nick Punto tie it in the top of the seventh with an RBI single.

On this night, there were no calls close enough for the umpire crew to head to the replay booth on the first night instant replay was available in baseball -- and the Coliseum isn't known for many debatable home runs anyway.

The Twins, who snapped a four-game skid by winning Wednesday at Seattle to avoid a sweep at Safeco Field, had runners aboard in all but the second and eighth innings but were hurt by four double plays. They missed a chance to pull within a half-game of the idle and first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and 1 1/2 of Boston for the wild card.

Minnesota loaded the bases in the sixth against A's starter Dana Eveland, getting a double steal by Denard Span and Alexi Casilla. Justin Morneau tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

Frank Thomas scored Oakland's first run in the fourth on a double play after hitting a leadoff double against Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who saw his winless stretch reach four starts. Minnesota continued a grueling 15-day, 14-game road trip, the Twins' longest since the 1969 season.

"We're on a long road trip and we've been battling things a lot ourselves, so we're just trying to figure out how to do a little better job on the road trip," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We know what happens here with us and the A's. It's always a battle. It's always good baseball -- two teams that play the game the right way, hustle, bust their tails."

Bobby Crosby's two-out single in the third was career hit No. 500 for the Oakland shortstop, but neither team did much of note offensively.

The A's had a rare bit of momentum coming into this four-game series, Oakland's lone stretch at home over seven series from Aug. 18 to Sept. 10. The team took two of three against the Angels in Los Angeles to start the week for their first series win in 13 tries. The 12 winless series was the second longest in Oakland history.

The A's have scored six or fewer runs in 34 straight games.

Game notes
The A's activated Sweeney from the 15-day DL and started him in RF. Sweeney had been out with a sprained right thumb since Aug. 13 and went hitless in a one-game rehab assignment. He was also on the DL earlier this season with a bruised toe. Struggling OF Carlos Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Sweeney. ... Oakland leads the season series 4-3. ... The Twins had won 10 of their previous 11 games against lefty starters. ... Oakland 2B Mark Ellis missed his fifth straight start with a strained right shoulder but was encouraged because he'd regained some range of motion. Ellis was named to the A's 40th anniversary team at his position. ... Devine has not allowed an earned run in 12 appearances since coming the disabled list Aug. 2.