OAKLAND, Calif. -- Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins have played enough nail-biters lately that they welcomed a lopsided victory.
Just the kind of win the club could use to really get rolling heading into the season's final month.Mauer matched his career high with five hits and had a season-best four RBIs, Kevin Slowey won his fourth straight decision and the Twins beat the Oakland Athletics 12-2 on Friday night."It's huge," Mauer said. "Over the last several weeks, myself included, we've been pressing a little bit to score runs. I hope we can get this momentum and keep going. It's nice to be on this side of a game like this."Cleanup hitter Justin Morneau doubled twice among his four hits and scored twice as Minnesota gained a game on first-place Chicago, which lost 8-0 in Boston. Mauer had a two-run single in Minnesota's six-run second. He also had five hits on June 26, 2006, against the Los Angeles Dodgers."Those are probably the best 3 and 4 hitters in the league," A's manager Bob Geren said of Minnesota's M&M hitters.The Twins wasted little time jumping on A's starter Dan Meyer, who is still searching for his first major league win after 16 appearances and six starts.Oakland's lefty didn't make it out of the second inning, recording five outs before he gave way to Kirk Saarloos.Slowey (11-8) struck out 10 in six innings to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions. He got plenty of offense to boot -- a rare rout for Minnesota. The right-hander walked one and allowed two runs on six hits.Jason Kubel had an RBI double and sacrifice fly and Brendan Harris added an RBI single and a triple for the Twins, who pounded a season-high 20 hits -- also the most allowed this year by the A's. It was a far cry from Minnesota's 3-2 loss a night earlier in which the club missed several key chances and had four double plays."We just started hitting and balls were flying everywhere," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had good at-bats. They make good pitches, you hit them. They make bad pitches, you hit them. That lifts our confidence. We've been fighting through some things."Nick Punto went 0-for-5 and was the lone Twins player without a hit. Craig Breslow even earned his first big league save for the Twins in the blowout for his three innings of relief work."At this stage, every game we play is going to be important," Breslow said.Jack Cust hit a two-run homer for one of the few highlights for Oakland, which was coming off its first consecutive wins since July 10-11 -- a span of 40 games.Cust's 24th homer was one of few mistakes by Slowey, who had a long wait in the dugout during Minnesota's long second inning."It takes you a little bit longer to get loose, but I'll take that every time," he said. "The offense came out scoring and never really let up."Meyer (0-3) is filling in as a starter for the A's until either All-Star Justin Duchscherer or Sean Gallagher comes off the disabled list. He didn't help his own cause with a wild throw past first for an error in the decisive second, when Twins leadoff man Denard Span drew a bases-loaded walk. Span also singled in a run in the seventh.Meyer went 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over his final five starts with Triple-A Sacramento, but that success hasn't transferred to the next level."My effort level was way too much," Meyer said. "It was like quicksand. The harder I tried, the faster I fell. I have the stuff to pitch at this level. Right now it's a mental game. I have to polish it up a little bit. I have to get through this."Saarloos had his own problems.He allowed 12 hits and five runs in five innings, struck out four and didn't walk a batter. The 12 hits allowed matched the most ever by an Oakland reliever along with Paul Lindblad, who was tagged for 12 hits in four innings on April 19, 1973, at Kansas City.Oakland reliever Santiago Casilla made his 100th career appearance, which included his outings under the name Jairo Garcia. In 2005, Casilla decided to tell the A's through his agent that he took the name and birth certificate of a friend who's nearly three years younger. Casilla regrets the move, which he called an act of desperation.
It was Slowey's second career game with 10 or more Ks. He fanned 11 A's batters on Aug. 19. ... This result had to be a welcome change for the Twins, who had nine of their previous 11 games decided by two or fewer runs. ... Injured A's DH/1B Mike Sweeney is still on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He soon will try to play nine innings at first. "He's feeling a little better but still not great," manager Bob Geren said. ... Because the first-place River Cats will make the Pacific Coast League playoffs, Oakland is unlikely to make many September callups until after they're eliminated.