Hot-hitting Nunez opts for sac bunt amid rally

Great defense prevents Twins from taking lead in seventh inning

Hot-hitting Nunez opts for sac bunt amid rally

OAKLAND -- During the Twins' four-game winning streak, they had no issues scoring runs, hitting 11 homers over that stretch while averaging 6.3 runs per contest.

But that win streak and their recent success offensively came to a halt against the A's on Monday, as the offense struggled to get anything going in a 3-2 loss at Oakland Coliseum. The Twins went 1-for-5 with seven runners in scoring position and didn't have an extra-base hit despite facing A's right-hander Kendall Graveman, who entered with a 5.36 ERA and hadn't completed six innings since May 2.

"It was a good game, but not a lot offensively for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was a little disappointing in that we liked the matchup headed in and how we'd been playing, but we didn't swing the bats well today."

The Twins had a prime opportunity in the seventh, when Juan Centeno and Danny Santana singled to open the inning against reliever John Axford with the A's leading by a run. Eduardo Nunez, the club's hottest hitter, came to the plate and was given the option to bunt for a hit, but missed his first bunt attempt. After a fastball missed up and away, Nunez decided to bunt on his own to move the runners over even though he entered the game with a team-high .338 average.

Though Nunez got the bunt down and moved the runners up to second and third, the move ended up not panning out. Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer struck out and lined out, respectively, to strand the runners, but Molitor defended Nunez's decision to bunt.

Alonso's great diving catch

"We have Dozier and Mauer behind him, so I gave him an option to bunt for a hit the first pitch and took it off, so he elected to do it on his own," Molitor said. "I didn't have a big issue with it given where we were at in the game and the bullpen being fresh."

Dozier, who came through with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, hurt the Twins with his inability to make contact in the seventh, as Axford used three straight outside fastballs to strike him out. Mauer nearly gave the Twins the lead, as he ripped a hard line drive down the first-base line, only to see first baseman Yonder Alonso make a sprawling catch to end the inning. The Twins went down in order the next two innings.

"We just couldn't put the ball in play with Dozier," Molitor said. "Joe had a nice at-bat. As little as we did offensively, we were just a couple inches away from taking the lead there. Alonso made a really nice play."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.