MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins designated hitter Kennys Vargas had five RBIs, including a three-run homer, to back left-hander Hector Santiago in his return from the bereavement list in a 7-4 win over the A's on Wednesday night at Target Field.
Santiago, who had been away from the team since Friday to attend his grandmother's funeral in New Jersey, registered his third quality start of the season, allowed three runs on four hits and walked three over six innings. He improved to 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA, helping the Twins to their fourth straight win.
Vargas provided the offense early against A's right-hander Kendall Graveman, who walked the bases loaded in the first. Vargas made Graveman pay with a broken-bat two-run single to give Minnesota an early lead. He later connected on a three-run blast in the third.
"It was a good night for Kennys," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "A lot of guys contributed. You take the wins when you get them. A win is a win, and they're not all pretty. We had to dance around Hector's command issues a little bit, but he got stronger that last inning."
Graveman was charged with a season-high six runs on five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. He was helped at the plate by a two-run shot from Yonder Alonso, his sixth of the year and his second in as many days. But it wasn't enough for the A's, who have lost eight of nine.
"I just didn't command the ball real well," Graveman said. "That's first and foremost. I didn't put the ball where I wanted to, and it was evident with the walks. Put us in a jam, and that game's solely on me. We scored enough runs to win, and I didn't go deep in the ballgame. It's tough when you've been on a pretty good roll and you feel like you just didn't command it well tonight."
The win puts the Twins percentage points ahead of the Indians for first place in the American League Central.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Vargas launches blast: The A's cut it to a one-run game heading into the bottom of the third, but Vargas gave the Twins a cushion with a three-run shot to center, his second of the year. The homer left the bat at 105 mph and went a projected 417 feet, per Statcast™.
"I was thinking attack when on-deck, because he threw a couple fastballs to Joe [Mauer]," Vargas said. "I was thinking I had to be ready for the first pitch, and that's what I did. Aggressive and then boom." More >
Buxton takes flight: A's slugger Khris Davis opened the fourth inning with a hard-hit liner into the left-center gap, but Twins center fielder Byron Buxton tracked it down and made a diving catch to rob Davis of extra bases. Buxton needed 4.2 seconds to cover 67 feet, giving it a catch percentage of 49 percent, which rates as a four-star play, per Statcast™.
"It was unbelievable," Santiago said. "What's funny is he came up to me before the game and told me, 'I got you, don't worry about it.' So I don't know if he called that play or predicted it, but he knew he was going to do something special tonight before the game." More >
"Anytime you do something like that for your family or for a good cause, it plays a role. You want to go out there and do a good job with those things on your mind and support them in the right way. You feel like you're doing special for someone special in your life." -- Santiago, on wearing specially-made cleats that featured the face of his grandmother, Manuela "Nelly" Rivera, who passed away last week at the age of 80
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Buxton posted the fastest time to third on a triple this season, reaching third in 10.73 seconds on a triple to lead off the fourth. It was the third fastest of Buxton's career, as his personal best is 10.69 last year.
WAHL MAKES DEBUT
A's right-hander Bobby Wahl made his Major League debut in the sixth inning, but he stuck around for just one out, allowing one run on back-to-back hits to lead off the frame. He also hit a batter, striking Brian Dozier in the left arm before being pulled.
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: The A's will have Jharel Cotton on the mound in opposition of the Twins for Thursday's 10:10 a.m. PT series-finale matchup at Target Field. Cotton (2-3, 5.00 ERA) has pitched well under the sun, posting a 2-0 record and 1.38 ERA in two starts this season during the day. He's 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA in three starts at night.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (0-3, 8.06 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the series finale on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Gibson has struggled this year, and is looking for his first quality start of the season.