Cotton K's nine to lead A's past Twins

Cotton K's nine to lead A's past Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Jharel Cotton struck out a career-high nine batters over six solid innings to help the A's snap a three-game losing streak with an 8-5 win over the Twins on Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

Cotton surrendered three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks to improve to 3-3 with a 4.64 ERA. He was hurt by solo homers from Eddie Rosario and Danny Santana in the second, but the run he gave up in the fourth was unearned after an error by Jaff Decker in center.

Rosario's solo homer in the 2nd

Cotton out-pitched Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, who continued his early-season struggles and saw Minnesota's win streak snapped at four games. Gibson went four innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks. He fell to 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA, and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game.

"I don't know that I've had a more frustrating stretch that I can even remember," Gibson said. "I completely understand where they're coming from. I understand they need to make a change and I have things to work on. It's a whole lot easier to work on those at Triple-A than here when you're trying to win games and get big-league hitters out."

The A's got out to a lead in the first on an RBI double from Khris Davis, before breaking out for three runs in the second. They tacked on a run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Adam Rosales before Ryon Healy connected on a solo blast in the seventh. Stephen Vogt put the game away with a two-run double in the eighth.

Healy's solo shot to left-center

"They came back and scored a couple runs, and we kept adding on," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "So all of the things offensively that you want to see, get off to an early lead, keep adding on, grinding your at-bats, we did all of that today."

The Twins made it interesting late in the game, as Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run homer in the eighth before they loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against closer Santiago Casilla. But he got Jorge Polanco to fly out to center before striking out Miguel Sano to end the game.

Casilla fans Sano, gets the save


A's strike first: The A's were helped by a rare misplay from center fielder Byron Buxton, who was turned around twice on a hard-hit liner from Davis. Buxton couldn't make the play, allowing Matt Joyce to score from first. It was Oakland's first lead of the series and their first since Sunday.

Davis' RBI double

"We missed a play in the first inning -- we all get that," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's not working [for Gibson]. It's putting us in a bad spot more times than not early in the season."

Cotton escapes jam: Cotton wasn't helped by his defense in the fourth, when Chris Gimenez ripped a single into center, but it bounced off Decker's knee, allowing Rosario to score from first and Gimenez to reach second. But Cotton escaped any further trouble, striking out Santana and Buxton to end the inning.

Buxton was removed from the game after making a running catch into the wall in left-center to rob Joyce of extra bases to end the fifth. Buxton exited due to precautionary reasons and passed the initial concussion protocol, but will be re-evaluated on Friday.

Buxton's nice grab in center

"He's banged up," Molitor said. "The concussion protocol tests came back relatively clean, but we'll have to probably check again tomorrow. Three times today, he got banged pretty good. He was OK to continue and wanted to keep playing, but I just didn't think he was right."

Healy was ejected in the eighth inning by home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski for arguing balls and strikes, after striking out for the third time on the day -- and the second time looking.

Healy gets ejected in the 8th

Athletics: The A's return to Oakland on Friday for a six-game homestand, beginning with three against the Tigers. Right-hander Andrew Triggs will be on the mound in Friday's 7:05 p.m. PT opener at the Coliseum, seeking his fifth win. Triggs has yet to allow a run in three starts at night this season, spanning 19 innings.

Twins: The Twins begin a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday night at Target Field. Right-hander Phil Hughes (4-1, 5.06 ERA) is set to start and is plenty familiar with Boston, having pitched with the Yankees from 2007-13.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.