OAKLAND – Recent history wasn’t enough to save the A’s on Sunday.
They came in riding a 12-game winning streak against the Minnesota Twins, but that run of dominance stopped with a 6-1 loss that denied the A’s a four-game sweep at the Coliseum.
The Twins scored three times in the eighth off Luke Gregerson (2-2) to snap a 1-1 tie, and it was two former Athletics who did the damage. Kurt Suzuki drilled a go-ahead double high off the wall in left-center that scored Danny Santana. Two batters later, Willingham connected for his eighth homer off Oakland in 18 career games, a two-run blast to left that made it 4-1.
After a couple of promising days of offensive production, the A’s scraped together just six hits against Phil Hughes (12-8) and two Twins relievers. That wasn’t enough, as the A’s saw their longest winning streak ever against Minnesota come to an end. They finished 6-4 on this 10-game homestand.
With the Los Angeles Angels losing to Boston, the A’s remain four games up in the American League West as they embark on a seven-game road trip to Kansas City and Atlanta.
Starting pitching report
After dodging his way through 5 2/3 shutout innings in his previous start, Jason Hammel turned in another solid outing that was easier on Bob Melvin’s blood pressure this time. The right-hander gave up just one run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two. His only run came on the game’s second batter, when Brian Dozier hit the first pitch he saw for a homer to left.
On Tuesday against Tampa Bay, Hammel had to feel fortunate after walking four and not getting punished for it. But now he’s put together back-to-back starts in which he’s allowed just one run total, and that’s got to be a lift for him.
It wasn’t a great afternoon for a bullpen that’s been rock-solid of late.
Gregerson hadn’t been charged with a run since June 25, but the Twins’ go-ahead rally in the eighth began with a bunt single from Santana, and things mushroomed from there.
Jesse Chavez endured a turbulent ninth inning, with two walks and two infield singles contributing to two runs that padded the Twins’ lead. In the seventh, Fernando Abad relieved Hammel with runners on the corners and one out, and a key sequence worked in the A’s favor and kept it a 1-1 game.
Jordan Schafer whiffed on a squeeze bunt attempt, and Eduardo Nunez was hung out to dry between third and home. Then Abad got Schafer swinging to end the threat.
At the plate
Just not enough was happening with the bats for Oakland. They got an early run on Stephen Vogt’s two-out RBI single in the first, but couldn’t break through for more after that. They couldn’t convert with two on and no outs in the fifth, then a runner was stranded on third with one out in the eighth.
One hitter the A’s need to pick it up -- cleanup man Brandon Moss, who went 2-for-28 on this homestand.
In the field
Hammel committed a harmless error in the third when he couldn’t find the handle on Jordan Schafer’s bunt back to the mound.
A crowd of 25,598 showed up on a sun-drenched afternoon.
A four-game series in Kansas City might have looked appealing in the past, but the Royals are playing good baseball as the A’s arrive Monday. Sonny Gray (12-5, 2.87) and Yordano Ventura (9-8, 3.47) match up in the 5:10 p.m. opener. Tuesday – Jon Lester (12-7, 2.44) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (8-9, 4.35), 5:10 p.m. Wednesday – Scott Kazmir (13-4, 2.73) vs. Jason Vargas (8-5, 3.68), 5:10 p.m. Thursday – Jeff Samardzija (3-1, 3.08) vs. James Shields (11-6, 3.25), 11:10 a.m.